While construction of a city dog park has been a relatively low priority for city of Yelm staff and council members for many years, informal talks have been revived.
During a forum at a Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this month, which played host to the six candidates running for seats on the Yelm council, multiple candidates voiced support for a potential dog park to add to the city’s current recreational offerings.
“I don’t even own a dog and I’d love to see a dog park here in Yelm,” candidate Matthew McLellan said at the meeting.
But who would pay for the park and where would it be located? Those appear to be the most important questions.
Yelm councilmember Molly Carmody, who has voiced approval for a dog park at recent council meetings, said a 1-acre fenced-off dog park with a water fountain could cost the city somewhere around $30,000.
But that price tag is also dependent on its location.
“It would be slim,” Carmody said of the potential for a new park.
Carmody said a dog park is unlikely to take priority in the coming years due to the recent completion of a number of capital projects by the city and because of a lack of communication with regards to the Yelm splash pad and playground project, which was late and over budget.
Although no one location has been looked at for a potential dog park, a few people have come forward to the council and offered land for a park, Carmody said.
Cecelia Jenkins, chair of the city’s park advisory committee, said her committee sets project priorities every January and that a city dog park, while having been discussed on and off for quite some time, has never been a priority.
Jenkins said projects such as a dog park are more nuanced and would require time to study similar projects.
“I’d want to look at the best and look at what hasn’t worked for people,” she said. “There’s more to a dog park than picking a spot, throwing up a fence and turning people loose.”
While it’s likely a low priority for the parks committee, Jenkins admits she could see the public taking favorably to a dog park, especially with how popular the new splash pad and playground has been since its opening this summer.
“I went out there yesterday, and even out in the misty rain kids were playing there,” she said.
Jenkins said she’d like to gage the public’s opinion further if talks were to progress.
Leashed pets are currently allowed on city property and on city parks. The city operates and maintains three parks currently; Yelm City Park, Cochrane Memorial Park and Longmire Community Park.
All three parks would present their own challenges for constructing a small dog park, including the issues of space usage.