900 South Lake Union Dogs Lobby for a Park – 300 Dogs go to work daily at Amazon


(From the seattlepi with permission)

With the help of condo dwellers and biotechnies, Vulcan-crafted South Lake Union has changed over the years from rough sketch to urban district. But the neighborhood still has a slightly sterile feel, with homogenous campus workers and condo living high off the street.

That could change, with the neighborhood’s estimated 900 dogs. The canine mass, determined by an informal poll among residents, has sparked a community effort to carve out a dog park in one of the city’s densest neighborhoods. Residents say such a park would bring some needed communal glue to the area, while giving room for dogs cooped up in yardless condos.

“I gave up a house with a backyard to move into what I felt was a more walkable way of life,” said Loretta Vosk, who lives in a 980-square-foot condo with her husband and two large dogs.

“But what’s missing is the ability to let the dogs get exercise.”

Like other downtown dog lovers, Vosk gets creative trying to tire out her greyhound and Lab mix in a small space. She takes long walks. She drives to a dog park, which feels silly after wanting to drive less. Others play a lot of “hallway tennis.”

With roughly 600 dogs who live in the neighborhood, Vosk has been lobbying the city for a fenced, off-leash area. But it wasn’t until Amazon moved in last year that her efforts got some heft. Amazon lets employees bring dogs to work, and it’s estimated that 300 dogs go to work there a day.

“I consider it the ultimate luxury to be allowed to bring my dog to work daily,” said Kevin Barmish, a product manager for Amazon’s Kindle. From Capitol Hill, he walks to work with beloved labradoodle Banjo and keeps him in a large pen bordered by baby gates. He would love a dog park close by.

“That is the only improvement I can think of that would make having a dog in South Lake Union a better experience,” he said.

But even in a city known for passionate dog lovers (see Banjo’s Facebook page), finding space has been difficult. Creating a dog park in general is tough, because it can’t be near homes or an environmentally sensitive area, said Parks Department spokeswoman Dewey Potter. Non-dog neighbors often object to them, because they think green space should be reserved for people.

“It’s very hard,” said Potter, who’s helped establish the city’s current 11 dog parks. “A lot of people don’t like it, because dogs poop and they bark.”

In South Lake Union, the density of buildings makes the search even tougher. A Parks Department report, scheduled for a briefing this week, agrees with the need for dog space and lays out three options for a temporary spot. But they all come with baggage.

Putting it in Denny Park upsets historians, who say dogs would mar the city’s oldest park. Putting it in Cascade Park would disrupt a kickball league. Putting it in Lake Union Park could lead to feces in the water and urine in the fountains (but dogs could help scare off troublesome geese).

At one point, interim Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams explored the idea of closing down a street just to let dogs run around. That idea was quickly nixed.

The city’s solution for a permanent dog park is at the old Greyhound Bus site on Denny Avenue. City Light is planning to demolish it to build a new substation, and Parks wants some space for dogs.

It estimates a temporary spot will cost $10,000 a year to maintain. Vulcan has agreed to chip in $50,000. The Parks Board’s briefing on the South Lake Union dog park is scheduled for this Thursday at 7 p.m.

Visit seattlepi.com’s home page for more Seattle news. Contact Vanessa Ho at 206-448-8003 or vanessaho@seattlepi.com, and follow her on Twitter as @vanessaho.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/South-Lake-Union-s-900-dogs-help-lobby-for-a-park-2209857.php#ixzz1aXMI4EW8

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