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Making a Fido-friendly Bremerton

Felix Gatman spent the warm sunny day on Tuesday walking his dog at Lions Park. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Felix Gatman spent the warm sunny day on Tuesday walking his dog at Lions Park.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

In the not-so-distant future, Bremerton residents may have a place to let their dogs out, literally.

More than 20 dog owners and dog lovers attended an informational meeting hosted by the city’s parks and recreation department on March 3 to gauge interest in creating a dog park in the city.

“I had the opportunity to build a dog park in Ashland, Ore., and it started just like this,” said Ken Michelson, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.

One of the keys to creating a dog park in the city will be an organized volunteer effort to help the parks and recreation department with everything from fund raising to site selection, Michelson said.

“We need to convince the public of the need for such a facility,” said Jodi Wroblewski from the city’s parks and recreation department. “This is a viable recreational opportunity that the people of Bremerton deserve.”

The idea of creating a dog park has floated around the parks and recreation department for about three years, Wroblewski said.

“We have a need for a dog park in this area,” she said. “A lot of studies have shown that people with pets live longer.”

Friendship and socialization between residents have been large parts of dog parks, she said.

“It can happen and it really takes a coordinated effort,” she said.

The city is looking for volunteers to be part of an on-going process that will lead to the eventual creation of a permanent location for a dog park in the city, she said.

There are several possible locations for a temporary dog park including Pendergast Regional Park, Lions Park, Sheridan Park, Forest Ridge Park and perhaps a corner of Evergreen Park.

However, each site needs to examined to determine its feasibility including available parking, current use, location and general suitability for such use, Wrobeleski said.

“Most dog parks that are successful have minimal impacts on their locations,” Michelson said. “It is really important to find an area where we won’t have an impact.”

Michelson said he has reservations about using Evergreen Park, because it is the most used park in the city.

“It has been my experience that dogs need their own area, and the first step is determining what’s available,” he said.

Once the assessment of available sites is done, then the next step would be to begin fund-raising efforts, he said.

“We’re gung-ho for anybody who wants to start one,” said Judy Stearns, president of Kitsap Dog Parks, Inc.

The dog park in South Kitsap has members from all across Pierce and Kitsap counties, Stearns said.

“The biggest challenge is usually money,” she said. “Because counties and municipalities are strapped for money, they aren’t able to provide funding.”

The reason the dog parks in South Kitsap took off so quickly was because volunteers were willing to provide labor and maintenance, while the county provided the land.

“We were helped out by the people who started the one in Marrimore, so we’re glad to pass on the favor,” Stearns said.

Bremerton resident Felix Gatman supports the city’s plans to build a dog park.

“I think Bremerton needs a dog park, and I can’t think of any better place than here,” Gatman said, as he walked his dog at Lions Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The city’s parks and recreation department will conduct its next meeting about the possibility of a dog park at 7 p.m., Thursday at the Sheridan Recreation Center.

For more information, contact Jodi Wroblewski at (360) 473-5305.

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