Not in Discovery Park: Off-leash area would violate precious open spaces

Yet again, it is suggested that Discovery Park is an ideal site for an off-leash area for dogs. Discovery Park has often been targeted as the easy solution and the ideal location for special activities because of its large open space.

Since the park's creation there have been more than 100 proposals for "just a piece" of Discovery Park, and if just a few of those proposals had become reality the park would be so fragmented that it would not resemble the magnificent open space that it is today-or worse yet, our city would not have a Discovery Park at all.

Finding a site for a neighborhood off-leash area is a difficult task indeed; not everyone will agree on the final location, and compromises must certainly be made. Discovery Park, however, must never be our compromise location for special activities.

The Discovery Park Master Plan of 1972 (Master Plan) warns that "in the years to come there will be almost irresistible pressure to carve out areas of the park in order to provide sites for various civic structures or space for special activities" and that "this park can provide an ideal site at no cost." The Master Plan also states that "the pressures for those sites may constitute the greatest single threat to the park" and that "there must be a deep commitment to the belief that there is no more valuable use of this site than as an open space."

It was recently stated that times have changed and the Master Plan is "a red herring." We wholeheartedly agree that times have changed. Open space and parkland is pressured as much as ever, and the desire to escape the noise, pollution and buildings of the city has not diminished.

Discovery Park is precious and unique; very few cities in this nation, or in fact the world, can boast of such a large, open, natural setting within city limits.

The need and desire to protect and complete this park and follow the Master Plan should override any suggestion to fragment and alter this natural setting. Daniel Kiley, creator of the Master Plan, wrote that "adherence to the guidelines of the plan will create one of the great urban parks of the world-and a joy to this city forever."

Quoting pieces of the primary function/central purpose of the Master Plan only diminishes its intent, so I refer to its entirety:

"The primary role of this park in the life of the city is dictated by its incomparable site. That role should be to provide an open space of quiet and tranquility for the citizens of this city-a sanctuary where they might escape the turmoil of the city and enjoy the rejuvenation which quiet and solitude and an intimate contact with nature can bring. It should be accepted that this park cannot satisfy all of the recreational needs of all of the citizens of Seattle. It can only complement the other elements in the park system. This park should not be asked to serve too many functions. It will best serve this city if it is permitted to serve one primary function and to serve that function well."

Friends of Discovery Park opposes any proposal for special activities in Discovery Park that do not follow this primary function. We hope you agree that an off-leash area is incongruent with Discovery Park and that there is no more valuable use for this park than as a quiet, open space.

This is not an issue of whether we love dogs but one of defending the integrity of the park and the principles of the Discovery Park Master Plan. Please join us in upholding this plan; its relevance is as important today as it was in 1972.

Paul Thompson is a Magnolia resident and president Friends of Discovery Park.[[In-content Ad]]