Nonprofit dog park planned Yakimal

YAKIMA -- A six-foot fence would enclose a large grassy area with park benches, playground equipment and small wading pools: A place where a dog can just be a dog.

Man's best friend would be able to run, play and socialize with other dogs free from a leash.

That's Laurie Mosher's plan for 4 1/2 acres of weed-covered land at the corner of Terrace Heights Drive and Locust Avenue.

The owner of K-9 Country Club at 2310 Terrace Heights Drive, a doggie day care business, Mosher now sees a need for a nonprofit dog park, a trend growing in popularity nationwide.

Tri-Citians are already familiar with the concept. Paws-Ability Place, the first Tri-City area dog park, is in Badger Mountain Community Park in Richland.

While many are interested in Mosher's planned park, at least one neighbor has opposed it, saying it would conflict with a neighborhood zoned residential.

As it stands now, the neighbor is on the losing side of this dogfight. A Yakima County hearing examiner earlier this month denied Ken and Gail Stevens' appeal of a conditional use permit granted to Mosher by the county. Patrick Spurgin, the hearing examiner, ruled that the park is allowed as long as Mosher doesn't use it to provide commercial dog care services.

The Stevenses haven't decided whether to appeal to Yakima County commissioners. But they still contend a dog park would be like a business.

"There are definitions of land use in residential areas and that seems to be a private business for members only," Gail Stevens said. "I think the disruption of our residential dogs by having other dogs come and go is going to have an adverse effect."

Mosher's park, which would be located several blocks away from her day care and operated separately, would have firm rules, she said.

Not just anyone would have access to the park. Dog owners would have to become park members, and their animals would be required to have all their shots and be screened for sociability.

Park members would have a security code to enter a locked gate, and be required to pick up after their dogs. The park would be divided into four separate yards based on dog sizes.