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Spokane parks board votes against Lincoln Park as South Hill dog park location

At Monday's Spokane parks board meeting, the resolution to make Lincoln Park the location for the official South Hill dog park failed, in a 6-2 vote.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Lincoln Park is what came closest to being the new official South Hill dog park. But Monday, the Spokane Parks board decided against Lincoln and more work and surveys would need to be done to find an alternative. 

Spokane Park Planning and Development Manager Nick Hamad presented a summary of survey findings at Monday's board meeting. He said efforts to curate data were easier said than done.

“This is an emotional topic for us," Hamad said. "This is an emotional topic for the community. These are hard amenities to locate. It is easy to plan master plans. It is hard to implement.” 

Despite all hardships, the department was able to finalize a location for the new South Hill dog park -- Lincoln Park.

According to the department, nearly 70% of surveyed voters preferred Lincoln Park over Underhill Park and Hazel’s Creek. 

But, despite Lincoln Park being the most favored, some people still disagreed it would be the best choice.  

On Monday, the majority of public comment encouraged the parks board to consider the preservation of native species and wildlife at Lincoln Park.  

“When you ask people in the community which site they preferred, did you tell them what was at stake? What would be irreversibly impacted? What our entire community would lose forever? What the true cost of this dog park would be?," One speaker asked.

"Lincoln Park is an urban treasure, the upper part," another public commenter said. "And it should be preserved."

Another speaker used her surroundings in the city council chambers to fuel her argument.

"I would add that you take note of what your mural is," she said. "We've brought nature into the city council. Why is that? Because we love nature."

Only a handful of Monday's public comment supported the resolution.  

Those few say while Lincoln Park might not be the perfect option, it would have been a good step to fulfilling a serious need. 

“Is Lincoln Park the best solution?," One speaker asked. "No, probably not. But, we mustn’t let perfect get in the way of good enough."

"We, along with other interested parties, have patiently stepped through the Parks department surveying and data collection," another supporter shared. "Thus far, the best alternative presented to us is Lincoln Park.” 

People said the survey process felt rushed, the proposed park area could be downsized and other locations could be better fits. 

The department said its initial search included over 140 sites. 

The board had mixed opinions, but majority voted no. 

The parks department reports Spokane offers one dog park per 115,000 people. This is a much lower average compared to the average in Pacific Northwest, which is 1 park per 26,000 people.  

While the resolution may have failed, at the time of the meeting, Hamad with the parks department said the construction timeline is not affected. Construction is still scheduled for early spring 2023.

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