South Hill dog park will shift to 5-acre site

<p><p>Dogs and their owners will have less room to roam following a decision by city and Spokane Public Schools leaders to place a temporary off-leash park not far from an old one.</p></p><p><p>The new 5.7-acre facility will open Oct. 8 just south of Mullan Road Elementary School and not far from the current 15-acre site, which will be closed to make room for a new middle school.</p></p><p><p>The current South Hill Dog Park will be closed early next month to allow for the fencing of the temporary dog park, the school district said this week,</p></p><p><p>The decision follows a contentious meeting at Mullan Road Elementary a few weeks ago, during which school and city officials offered several temporary fixes – including the one finally selected – but no permanent solutions.</p></p><p><p>Accustomed for decades to the current site, dog owners said they supported the district’s $495 million capital bond for new middle schools partly because they expected to have access to a comparable-sized park after construction of the new school.</p></p><p><p>However, the district learned only this summer from the city that the land is unsuitable for public use because adjacent landfill is unstable. It’s unclear when the city learned of the problem, but it didn’t inform the district until July.</p></p><p><p>During the Aug. 24 meeting, attendees criticized the 5-acre temporary site as too small and potentially unsafe for dogs accustomed to roaming larger spaces.</p></p><p><p>However, most dog owners were focused on finding long-term solutions to replace a park that’s been used for 30 years and not just by South Hill residents.</p></p><p><p>Several people talked about how they were willing to drive up to 30 minutes to use the off-leash park. At that point, the conversation moved farther afield, to what some called the lack of decent dog parks in the rest of the city.</p></p><p><p>During the Aug. 24 meeting, Garrett Jones, director of Spokane Parks and Recreation, said he understood the demand for dog parks. Then he explained the process that could eventually lead to selection of a permanent site.</p></p>