Local dog owners will soon have a local, off-leash dog park for their four-legged companions to run, play and socialize as the Yelm City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a new contract bid for the construction of the park.
During the Yelm City Council meeting on Sept. 12, councilors Amanda Johnstone, Joseph Richardson, Holly Smith, Brian Hess, Ashley Brooks and Terry Kaminski all voted in favor of approving a new construction contract valued at $693,529.20.
Yelm Public Works Director Cody Colt said the total price does not include the cost of bathrooms, which are slated to be installed in the future. The cost also includes the sum of the pavilions, engineered mulch, grass, a walking path, fences, hook-ups for an eventual bathroom and concrete.
Richardson asked Colt how much of the city’s money would be used for the project. Colt said the city has $575,000 of grant money meant for the off-leash dog park, and the city would pay the $118,000 difference. He added that if the city didn’t use the grant money for this project, the money would go away.
“The grant money goes bye bye,” Colt said. “Somebody else would get it, and reallocate it or something else. We’d lose $575,000.”
Hess spoke from first-hand experience on why he was in favor of approving the construction contract for the dog park.
“It is important for dogs to have a place. It’s not just for the dog owner to take [their dogs], but it’s also a wonderful place for dogs to learn how to socialize,” Hess said. “I can attest to the fact that when we had a new puppy, when COVID came around, that puppy did not socialize with other dogs or other people. It’s a challenge now to work with it. She’s doing a great job. I think this would be great for our community.”
Currently, Yelm doesn’t have an off-leash park, and dog-owners have used Longmire Park and other local parks for their pets, which has damaged the fields meant for athletics and play. Pets are also prohibited at Longmire Park and its fields.
“This specifically is an off-leash dog park,” Richardson said. “The rules in town are if you have a dog, you’re supposed to have them on a leash. That would be the ‘why’ behind this.”
Councilor Crossman said he spoke to several dog owners around town about whether an off-leash dog park would benefit them or not. Crossman said, however, he was told by dog owners that they “don’t need dog parks.”
He said this caught him off guard, and that he previously assumed that all dog owners would use a dog park.
“I just assumed people with dogs would want a dog park, but apparently not everyone does,” Crossman said. “That wasn’t from Facebook. That was from actual conversations because I want to know if we need a bathroom at a dog park, and if that’s important to people.”
When asked about yearly maintenance cost, Colt said the City’s plan is to have it “roughly around the same maintenance cost” as Yelm City Park. He added that Yelm City Park’s budget sits around $10,000 each year for re-sodding, fixing fences and other maintenance.