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City of Wilsonville to host a presentation about contentious dog park in Memorial Park Feb. 12

Though there was some controversy in 2017 about moving the Memorial Park Dog Park from its current location to an open field next to the community garden, the project was approved by the City and construction will begin to ramp up this year.SPOKESMAN PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - The new Memorial Park dog park, slated for opening in late 2019 or 2020, will be located next to the community garden.

Now, the City's Parks and Recreation department is seeking feedback on some of the elements of the new off-leash park, which is called the Memorial Park Dog Run. To do that, the department is hosting a presentation 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Wilsonville Community Center.

City Recreation Coordinator Erica Behler said construction of the dog park will occur during the next fiscal year (after July 1) and the park will be open to the public in either late 2019 or 2020. The park is funded through system development charges (one-time fees charged for new development).

"It (moving the park) will give us an opportunity to really design it the way we want to, kind of starting fresh," Behler said. "It also is just gonna open up this space (at the current dog park) for future projects."

The department is calling it a "dog run" rather than a dog park due to new terminology from the National Recreation and Park Association. Like the old dog park, the new park will include a seperate space for active and passive dogs and is about the same size (1.5 acres) as the current park. The new park will also include shelters, benches and bathrooms.

"It (the dog run) also means that it is more of a larger area for them to run versus having a lot more smaller play structures in it," Behler said. "It's more focused on open space."

Also, the Boeckman Creek Pedestrian Bridge along S.W. Kolbe Lane will be upgraded to provide vehicular access to the park and a parking lot with 23 spaces, which was recently added next to the location of the new park. The City decided to implement the Kolbe Lane improvement after local residents expressed safety concerns regarding the current access point to the new park, which is the intersection of Wilsonville Road and Schroeder Way.

The current park is located next to the disc golf course in Memorial Park.

"(The current park) is a little bit hidden whereas here we're hoping with the great access to the parking lot it will be a little bit easier for people to get to," Behler said.

Behler said the parks department recently purchased a dog washing machine so that owners can immediately clean muddy dogs following excursions to the park.

"They're a really good ammentity to have, especially for some dogs that, just rolling in the mud is their thing," Behler said. "We had a lot of feedback of, 'If you could have something to wash our dogs off before we get back in the car that would be great.'"

At the upcoming presentation, Behler said the department will ask community members if they would be interested in forming a dog run advocacy group that would help maintain the park and take special interest in it. The group could perform tasks like filling gopher holes, which are pervasive in the current dog park.

"We have attempted to informally have that down at the dog park by constantly having piles of wood chips down there and a shovel in hopes that people might fill in the gopher holes," Behler said. "But we're trying to have a more organized group of people that want to do that and are passionate about the dog park."

The department will also ask the public about potential programming, which could include meetups, classes and training sessions, at the new park.

"A lot of other parks and rec agencies do 'Barks and Brews' where you bring in a little brewery truck and have a little get together," Behler said.

Behler said the parks department has discussed taking the boulders dislodged during construction of the parking lot to create some sort of canine play structure at the current park. However, the City is still deciding what to do with the space.

The department will also present results from a community survey taken regarding the park last April. The survey, which generated 80 respondents, showed that people are unhappy with the mud puddles in the current park, want better drainage for the water spicket and better lighting. Behler said the parks department will use the feedback from the survey and at the presentation to decide further features that could be added to the park. However, she said the new park won't have some of the recurring problems mentioned about the current park.

"I think we really tried to take the negatives that people have and get rid of them with the new features," she said. "Hopefully people enjoy it and appreciate it and we still have our beautiful dog park to enjoy in the time being."

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