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April 7, 2010

April 6 City Council Study Session – Roll Up Your Sleeves, Kirkland’s Going to the Dogs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Tracy Doering @ 10:38 pm

A big KDOG thank you to those who attended the City Council-Park Board study session at Kirkland City Hall last night – what a great turn out!  Our group spilled out of the meeting room and into the foyer; awesome attendance.  Thanks also to those who wrote letters to the City Council, attended City Council meetings, spoke before the City Council or recruited others to speak or write letters.  I’m happy to report that your hard work had a positive impact.

One thing is for certain, we were disappointed that Jean couldn’t witness the outcome of last night’s study session real-time and in person (she’s half way around the world), but Amy gave a report to her via cyberspace.  For others who couldn’t attend, I’m sorry you missed it.  It was the most encouraging and uplifting meeting I’ve attended at Kirkland City Hall on our favorite topic, ever (okay, 13 years of ever in my experience).

The Park Board put two proposals before the City Council for off-leash dog recreation in Kirkland: (1) a full-time designated off-leash area at the “Schott property,” a 1.5 acre parcel adjacent to the Heronfield Wetlands in northeast Juanita, and (2) off-leash use of existing park spaces during limited hours (spaces to be identified at a future point in time and only with the support of relevant neighborhood associations).  The City Council members were quite supportive of these proposals, citing some prerequisites and concern about comprehensive maintenance plans (where KDOG comes in) and potentially taking on too much by focusing on both proposals simultaneously.  Council members were in agreement that the first proposal for designated space should be fast-tracked and that both proposals would need to be implemented as pilots (i.e., hope for the best and see how it goes), with the first proposal getting a longer test period.  We heard a resounding response from the City Council that they really want to see these models work for Kirkland residents and their canine companions.  So there you have it — we’ve finally made progress, and things are really looking up.

While this is not a done deal and certain circumstances are always outside KDOG’s control, the ball is pretty much now in our court, working in partnership with our friends on the Park Board.  The Park Board has been a great partner and advocate on KDOG’s behalf.  We’ve done some great community outreach and fund raising to date and we’ve represented to the City Council that we are a willing and capable stewardship organization — we’ve stepped up, now it’s time for us to really get to work and prove ourselves.  A few City Council members cited non-specific examples of other great community-driven stewardship projects that came out with a bang and faded over time.  We need to ensure that we don’t fall into that category.

The first item we need to cross off the to-do list is completion of an environmental study for use of the Schott property.  A firm has quoted $5,000 to do this study for the City of Kirkland.  Amy and others are currently researching other firms in the hope that KDOG’s non-profit status might help (donation of services or sponsorship by local businesses).  

How can you help?  KDOG has numerous volunteer opportunities that will enable you to apply your particular talents and time availability.   The 2nd annual Go Dog, Go! event is quickly approaching and we are committed to making that a huge success.    Please contact Amy at  Volunteer informational meetings will soon be on the KDOG calendar as well.   Let’s roll up our sleeves!