Photo by Jessica Keller: A person plays with their dogs at the Big Howe Park ball field in Upper Queen Anne, last month. To discourage this behavior, which is not permitted and damages the grass and ballfields, an application has been submitted to the city’s Parks Department asking staff to consider creating an off-leash dog area at David Rodgers Park in Upper Queen Anne.
Photo by Jessica Keller: A person plays with their dogs at the Big Howe Park ball field in Upper Queen Anne, last month. To discourage this behavior, which is not permitted and damages the grass and ballfields, an application has been submitted to the city’s Parks Department asking staff to consider creating an off-leash dog area at David Rodgers Park in Upper Queen Anne.

An application asking Seattle Parks Department staff to consider creating an off-leash dog area at David Rodgers Park in upper Queen Anne has been submitted to the city.

Don Harper, chairman of the Queen Anne Community Council Parks Committee, sent off the paperwork Thursday morning after the QACC approved sponsoring the application, with more than 10 members in favor.

Pursuing a possible off-leash dog area in David Rodgers Park is part of an effort to give residents on Upper Queen Anne a sanctioned place to let their dogs run around without breaking leash or park rules.

At a parks committee meeting in December, Harper said, without an easily accessible off-leash area at the top of Queen Anne, pet owners have resorted to letting their dogs off-leash at all the local parks and athletic fields, despite it not being permitted. As a result, Harper said, the quality of the parks and ball fields are deteriorating because dogs tear up the fields and turf and, in some cases, make the play fields unusable.

“I will say that the more OLA’s that we have, the greater the chance we have of saving our parks,” Harper said at the December Parks Committee meeting. “Our parks are being ruined by the dogs off leash in them.”

The proposal, however, has attracted a fair number of opponents, many of whom are neighbors to David Rodgers Park.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, a letter signed by people calling themselves Friends of David Rodgers Park, was submitted to the QACC opposing the OLA.

“Queen Anne has a lot of parks, many of them with great views in addition to sports fields and playgrounds,” according to the letter. “But David Rodgers Park is special; its intended purpose is more expansive. It does not have the views, but instead it has nature. Come to this park for the walking trails that begin at the more landscaped top section of the park and wind through a natural habitat setting, loaded with native plants, trees, natu- rally felled trees that create log bridges and the blackberry bushes that are great for foraging. Creating an Off Leash Area (OLA) would completely change the sense, purpose, intention and feel of this unique park.”

Since last week, more than 60 people have signed the letter, with residents who do not support an OLA establishing themselves as Stewards of David Rodgers Park.

Amy Carlson, a member of the Stewards of David Rodgers Park who submitted the letter to QACC, said before the Community Council vote last week that the park is enjoyed by many residents and home to a number of wildlife, including coyote and barred owls. David Rodgers Park also features a playground, three tennis courts, public rest rooms, a bigger set of swings and paths that eventually lead to the Queen Anne Bowl.

“If you have not taken a walk recently in David Rodgers Park, I urge you to do so and think of the impact a fenced-in area would have on this well-used park,” she said.

Last week’s vote is only the first step to create an OLA at David Rodgers Park, however, and a successful outcome is not a foregone conclusion.

First, the Parks Department has 30 days to respond to the application. If the proposal is accepted, a formal application will be submitted, starting a process that will take over a year to complete and include a number of opportunities for people to support or voice their objections.

Even then, an OLA would open as a pilot program for 18 months to ensure things are running smoothly and address any problems that arise, QACC board member Sharon Levine said last week. If those issues can’t be resolved, it is possible the OLA would be closed.

Levine also reiterated this could be the last opportunity for an OLA in Upper Queen Anne.

“There are always going to be pros and cons in each of these [efforts], but we’ve pretty much run out of possibilities in the upper Queen Anne area,” she said.

To read the entire off-leash area application process, go to https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/ParksAndRecreation/PoliciesPlanning/NewOLAPreliminaryProposalPacket.pdf.