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Park for Silverdale pooches coming this summer

Anita Bates, president of the Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship, sits with her two huskies, Denali and Ania, at Gateway Park, the site of the future Silverdale Dog Park. - Lynsi Burton/Staff Photo
Anita Bates, president of the Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship, sits with her two huskies, Denali and Ania, at Gateway Park, the site of the future Silverdale Dog Park.
— image credit: Lynsi Burton/Staff Photo

Anita Bates and Mike McCown have to travel to Raab Park in Poulsbo for the nearest place to let their dogs run free.

Coming from Silverdale, it’s a long drive just to find a play space for their pets.

“There’s no real outlet for your pet unless you’re walking them all the time,” Bates said, adding that most people don’t have the time to exercise their pets as much as needed.

So she decided to bring a dog park to Silverdale.

In March, Bates posted petitions for a new dog park at all the pet shops and veterinarian offices in the area and the Kitsap Humane Society. Within three months, she said, she garnered 1,209 signatures to present to County Commissioner Steve Bauer, who enthusiastically backed the pursuit.

“I just think it’s a great idea,” Bauer said. “Having a place where people can go to exercise their dogs ... makes a lot of sense.”

But while Bates and McCown, president and vice president of the Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship, have county backing, it is still largely up to groups like theirs to build parks in Kitsap County, due to lack of money.

“The county is moving more and more into stewardship groups to manage their parks because of funding issues,” McCown said, adding that the Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship will not only pay for the park’s construction, but also waste management and maintenance.

Jim Dunwiddie, Director of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation calls the expansion of local stewardships “the way of the future.”

“In times like this, having community involved ... supplements what the government can do,” he said, adding that managing the county parks budget will be a “balancing act” in the next several years.

The new park will come at “virtually no cost” to the county, Bauer said.

The Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship has held monthly meetings at Naturally 4 Paws since May and has raised almost $10,000 through a rummage sale, silent auction and other fundraisers since March — $1,000 of that came from Bauer’s $10,000 fund each commissioner gets to support projects in his district. The stewardship’s goal is to raise $35,000 and open the park by July, Bates said.

The dog park will be built on a nearly two-acre space at Gateway Park on Silverdale Way, adjacent to the Clear Creek Trail. The Silverdale Dog Park Stewardship envisions a fenced-in area for smaller dogs, a larger open space for bigger dogs, a picnic area and an expanded parking lot. Volunteers from local service groups will build benches and remove bushes, Bates said.

“If you’re walking your dog on-leash on Clear Creek Trail, wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to bring your dog and let them play and socialize at the dog park off-leash?”

The stewardship last week received the go-ahead from the county to expand the existing parking lot and is now awaiting further approval from the county to pursue additional money — including corporate donations — and begin construction, Dunwiddie said.

The group also awaits a final resolution from the commissioners and a memorandum of understanding from Parks and Recreation, Bates said, which will cement, among other things, the stewardship’s agreement to follow environmental and maintenance standards.

The Silverdale Dog park will join two others in south Kitsap, both under county jurisdiction. The dog parks in Poulsbo and Bremerton are owned by their respective cities, Bates said.

Bates and McCown predict the Silverdale park will be overused as soon as it opens, with its proximity to the Ridgetop Boulevard NW apartment developments.

Supporters of the park believe the benefits will be shared by dogs and people alike.

“Dog parks are great places,” McCown said. “Not just for the dogs, but for the dog owners to socialize, too.”

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