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Rumors have led some Sequim Dog Park users to believe the park would close.

Jeff Edwards, parks coordinator for the city of Sequim, said there are no such plans for the dog park in Carrie Blake Park, 202 Blake Ave.

A misunderstanding between the city and park users came up prior to the last Citizen's Park Advisory Board meeting. Edwards had sent a letter on Feb. 2, asking

Sequim Dog Park Pals chairman David Hannon to discuss an increase in users not cleaning up dog feces. He encouraged Hannon and volunteers to increase clean-up efforts.

Hannon began telling park users about the meeting and the importance of self-policing the park.

Some users misheard that the park would close and came to the meeting wanting answers.

"It's like the old post office game in grade school," Hannon said.

"You whisper something in someone's ear and it gets distorted.

"I was encouraging everyone to cooperate but I don't know how it got so out of proportion."

Dialogue even a dog can hear

By the end of the meeting, Edwards had made it clear that the park is not going to close.

"We have 1.5 full-time employees to manage 100 acres of parks," he told the Sequim Gazette.

"That's why we need volunteers to keep it maintained. It's needed and appreciated."

He asked attendees to sign up to volunteer officially in the park. Interest was high but so far only one person has turned in a finished form.

Hannon was surprised only one signed up but thinks there will be more volunteers following an open discussion meeting on April 13 between park users and Sequim Dog Park Pals' board of directors.

"I think it was a positive experience. It showed how concerned the dog park users are for the dog park," Hannon said about the meeting.

"Now (people) are talking more to each other about cleaning the park."

Self-policing

Hannon and most park users feel people are conscientious about picking up their dog's waste.

"I think if you talk to a majority of dog park users, they are doing a good job of self-policing," Hannon said.

"There are a few people who refuse and are belligerent about not doing it, but people are intentional about picking up their dogs' stuff, too."

Hannon walked the park the day he received the letter from Edwards to make sure people were picking up the waste.

"I only found three (deposits) in the whole area and picked them up," Hannon said. "There's the odd one here and there, but I think the people are doing a really good job."

Barriers

Excess waste isn't the only problem, Edwards said.

Dogs are breaking through orange barriers and tearing up reseeding areas.

Edwards bought the barriers to keep the park open rather than closing it temporarily for maintenance.

Hannon said volunteers have secured the barriers better and are trying to keep people aware of their purpose.

"I think if you go there on a Saturday, a majority of the dogs are well-behaved," Hannon said.

"I think these issues are something the users can work out better to make things more harmonious."

No pickup equals fine

The city of Sequim does not police the dog park for lazy users because of budget and manpower issues.

Lisa Hopper, code compliance and animal control officer for the city, said people who do not pick up their dog's waste can receive a $50 fine as a class three infraction and repeat offenses increase with each ticket's price.

For a ticket, a compliance officer must catch the person in the act of leaving dog waste or a witness must be willing to sign the ticket.

This applies in the city limits as well.

Hopper recommends park users speak to those not picking up the waste and create awareness.

Open discussion

The Sequim Dog Park Pals will meet 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church to discuss volunteering and efforts for self-policing dog waste pickup.

"We're going to meet with people who are concerned," Hannon said.

"We want to make sure this issue doesn't come up again."

Read more about the Sequim Dog Park Pals at www.sequimdogparks.org


Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.
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