People and their pets have new room to roam in Gig Harbor.
PenMet Parks celebrated the opening of the first off-leash dog park in unincorporated Pierce County on Saturday morning with a crowd of about 75 people and a number of happy hounds.
“It’s been an unbelievable success,” said Jon Ortgiesen, president of PenMet Parks’ board of commissioners. “People all love it.”
There are more than 15 acres of fenced trails and open space available to the public at the Rotary Bark Park, located at 10022 Bujacich Road NW, adjacent to McCormick Forest Park.
Terry Lee, the executive director of PenMet Parks, introduced area leaders, including state Reps. Jan Angel and Larry Seaquist, Sen. Nathan Schlicher and Pierce County Council member Stan Flemming, all of whom offered brief accolades for the project.
“This is an amazing, textbook example of the community working together in partnership with the community to create this opportunity,” Lee said.
As he looked for ways to utilize and create revenue to develop and improve the parks system, Lee went to the Peninsula School District board two years ago to draft an agreement to allow improvements to some of the 92 acres the district owned.
The result was a community collaboration and the eventual creation of the dog park.
“Partnership with other community groups allows us to use underdeveloped areas already paid for by the taxpayers be put to new use,” Lee said.
Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto offered his congratulations.
“Crafting and cultivating this partnership shows how together we can get things done,” he said. “This isn’t the first or last time we will partner with PenMet Parks.”
Lee recognized other community partners, including the Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One board of commissioners for leasing parking spaces, support from the Gig Harbor Rotary Club and Canine Health Education and Welfare, which donated a check for $5,000 from an endowment fund created to use as maintenance for the new park. CHEW initiated the idea for the park years earlier with a signature drive.
Betty Felker, president of the Gig Harbor Morning Rotary, opened the park.
“Rotary is honored to be named for this park,” she said before she cut the ceremonial red ribbon. “We are committed to supporting the parks.”
Pets that patiently waited for the opening made their way to the facility to enjoy the freedom of the new off-leash area.
“It’s a perfect place for people and their pets to socialize,” said Vicki Stasch, a Mid-Day Rotary member who owns labs Gracie and Bailey. “It’s great to have the puppies be able to run free.”
CHEW rescue dog Haley was one of the first to enter the park with her new owners, the Magnusson family. Haley wandered around the trees and greeted other pets.
This is the first of other dog parks in the works for PenMet Parks. Others are slated to be open as early as the end of the year.
The Rotary Bark Park is a case of people seeing a need for the community and bringing it to fruition through “patience, perseverance and partnership,” PenMet Parks board member Bill Sehmel said.