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Brookings needs a dog park

More than a year ago, the Pilot campaigned for the creation of an officially-designated dog park, or at least an off-leash area in an existing park, in the Brookings-Harbor area.

Matthew Raleigh, a local Boy Scout, took up that challenge and, with the cooperation of the Oregon State Parks Department and the help of friends and local businesses, created a simple, yet successful dog park in Harbor.

The park, at McVay Rock State Park, consists of a fenced in five-acre area of grass that includes plastic chairs for the humans, pet waste collection stations, a trash can, water bowls, filled water jugs and a handful of toys for the dogs. Residents who use the park are singing its praises. It’s a complete success. It didn’t cost a bundle to build and didn’t get caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

So why then, hasn’t the city of Brookings done the same?

We’re not sure of the exact number of dogs in our community, but we’re sure there’s plenty – more than enough to warrant a Brookings dog park.

Currently, dog owners who wish to let their dogs run leashless have to do so discreetly, often illegally, and possibly impact the public safety of walkers, runners, small children, frail older folks, smaller dogs and other animals. If dog owners have a sanctioned place to let their dogs run, there will be less reason for them to flout leash laws. That’s a public safety benefit everyone should support.

In the past, the Pilot suggested using a part of Azalea Park, perhaps the unused sand volleyball court area, as a potential site for a dog park. Another possible site is the relatively unused back corner (behind the  hill) of Stout Park on Oak Street. Both sites are relatively isolated, have natural sound barriers, and don’t need any improvements (dogs love grass and sand).

Of course, there are physical, financial and legal aspects to address in creating a dog park or off-leash area, but the trick is to keep it simple –  an informal, fenced area with posted rules, a station with litter bags, and a trash can for waste cleanup.

A good example of this can be found at McVay Rock State Park. Let’s follow the lead of one industrious Boy Scout and get it done.

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