The sign letting park visitors know that a five-acre off-leash dog area will be coming soon to Badger Mountain Community Park has been in place for as long as Rochelle Brunsdon of Richland has been going there. But, so far, only half of the promised five-park has been built.
But that could be changing.
The city of Richland is looking at expanding its existing 2.5-acre Paws-abilities Place dog park in south Richland and adding a second off-leash dog park in north Richland.
The dog park’s grass is difficult to maintain because of its high use, said Joe Schiessl, Richland parks director.
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The expansion would double the dog park’s size and give it a separate fenced-in area. Richland could then close one of the parks at a time, while leaving the other open, to give the grass a chance to rehabilitate.
“We will constantly rotate it so it remains in better condition,” Schiessl said.
That would be welcome news to Brunsdon, a Richland resident who has been coming to Paws-abilities Place since the permanent park opened in October 2011.
“The dogs really run hard and play hard, so some of it gets kicked up,” she said of the grass. “I think they’ve done a darn good job of maintaining it. They have fresh water all the time for the dogs and they keep it pretty clean.”
The grass in the dog park was really nice three years ago, when Ethan King of West Richland started bringing his golden doodle Shadow, now 4, to the park. But brown spots are now noticeable in parts of the park, particularly around a picnic-table shelter.
“Even torn up, it’s still nice to have an open area,” he said while Shadow and 1-year-old toy poodle Sylania played.
The popular dog park is the only one in the Tri-Cities, so it draws people from all over. It has separate areas for large and small dogs.
“I ask people where they’re from and they say, ‘Pasco, the far side of Pasco,’ ” Brunsdon said while her dogs Riley, a 1-year-old golden retriever-yellow Lab mix, and Darby, a 9-month-old English cream golden retriever, play. “There really is nothing like it.”
The Tri-City Dog Park Society has committed $35,000 for the second phase of the dog park, which is in Badger Mountain park’s master plan, said Tom Currie, the group’s president. The city would pay $100,000 toward the park.
The project is under review to be funded in 2016, Schiessl said. It still needs city council approval.
Longer term, the city is considering adding a two-acre dog park in the Horn Rapids area at Hanford Legacy Park. The project is in the city’s six-year capital improvement plan, and Richland does not have the money for it.
“We’d be looking for private funding,” he said.
The current plan calls for construction in 2020, with the city and private donations each paying $75,000 of its $150,000 cost.
The new dog park would be closer to home for Kim Williams of West Richland. But she said she still might bring Frodo, a 1-year-old Pyrenees-Austrailian Shepherd mix, to the Badger Mountain dog park.
“It’s convenient and there are a lot of nice people,” she said. “It seems most people socialize, as well as the dogs.”
King said he would like to see more dog parks in the area “even if it was a small dog park in some of the bigger parks they have,” he said.
Currie said he has not been involved in any discussions about a dog park in Horn Rapids.
Hanford Legacy Park sits on a 117-acre site, but now consists only of four Babe Ruth baseball fields and a large gravel parking lot. The city was recently received $500,000 from the state to build five multipurpose fields, as well as parking for almost 300 cars. Richland also will contribute $575,685.
Its long-term plan calls for an aquatic center, adult softball fields, roller hockey and tennis courts, playgrounds and a recreation center to be built there.
The initial dog park cost $92,000, including private money and funds from the city. Volunteers worked for years to make the park a reality, initially setting up a temporary dog park.
The dog park society later raised money to install drinking fountains for both dogs and humans, which were installed in 2014.
Richland looks to remain the only one of the Tri-Cities with a dog park for a while. Kennewick spokeswoman Evelyn Lusignan said that city has no dog park planned.
Pasco does not have a dog park in its six-year capital improvement plan, said Rick Terway, administrative and community services director.
“Our focus right now is to get a new animal shelter for the area,” he said.