Dogs may get room to roam

MARYSVILLE – Bob Evans’ border collie, Lance, loves to run.

“He’ll run all day if I let him,” said Evans, who lives north of the city.

The problem is, it’s illegal for dogs to run off-leash in public places in Marysville and unincorporated Snohomish County.

Soon, Lance could go from having nowhere to run legally off-leash to having one or two places.

Marysville and Snohomish County are looking at establishing off-leash dog parks at two separate locations in and near the city.

Neither plan is official. The county has set aside money for dog parks; the city has not.

The city has drawn up a design for a tentative site, a five-acre parcel off 40th Street NE behind Sunnyside Elementary School. The property was donated to the city by the Kiwanis Club in 1995.

The city has heard from many dog owners such as Evans who would love to have a legal, sanctioned place for their dogs to run and socialize leash-free.

“People I’ve talked to are very excited about it,” City Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen said.

Snohomish County is looking at its Mother Nature’s Window park at 100th Street NE and 59th Drive NE in unincorporated Marysville as a possible location of one of four off-leash parks it’s planning around the county, parks director Tom Tiegen said.

The county is planning off-leash parks at Willis Tucker and Tambark Creek parks near Mill Creek, and at Field’s Riffle Park near Snohomish, Tiegen said.

He said if the county decides to go ahead with an off-leash area at Mother Nature’s Window, it could happen as soon as next spring.

The county is flush with $250,000 approved specifically for dog parks, Tiegen said.

At the city, an exact cost figure for the city’s Sunnyside location has yet to be nailed down, parks director Jim Ballew said. An estimate is $60,000 to $80,000.

The money would be needed for fencing, parking for 12 vehicles, an asphalt trail, drinking fountains for dogs and their owners, and a surface of dirt and wood chips.

The City Council could discuss the issue as soon as next month. It’s uncertain when a decision will be made.

The earliest the city park could be funded would be next year, Rasmussen said. If it’s approved, construction would take 60 to 90 days, Ballew said.

Private donations for the city park are being sought. So far, only about $2,000 has been raised, most of it in donations collected at the Poochapalooza festivals held earlier this month and last year.

It’s uncertain how much the City Council would be willing to put up for the park, said Rasmussen, who owns four Alaskan Husky sled dogs.

A group of about 24 Poochapalooza participants is forming a nonprofit organization called the Marysville Dog Owners Group, city spokesman Doug Buell said. Buell, a dog owner, is helping to form the group.

The group plans to begin fundraising in earnest soon and hopes to draw contributions from pet stores and related businesses, Buell said.

City and county officials are counting on dog owners to maintain and manage the parks. That’s the method that has worked well in other areas, such as at the large off-leash dog area at King County’s Marymoor Park in Redmond, Tiegen said.

For now, Evans takes Lance, 3, to a field near his house.

It would be great, Evans said, for Lance to have “somewhere he can run that’s legal.”

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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