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Whittemore for Seattle City Council

COLA Questionnaire

P.O. Box 80672

Seattle, WA 98108

 

1. Tell us about your experience with dogs.

Let me begin by explaining my long relationship with animals. My commitment to the protection and understanding of animals led me into academic pursuits which focused on animal behavior, specifically undergraduate and graduate studies of primates in the field. As an cartoonist/illustrator I have illustrated a book, For the Love of Animals published by Living Planet Press, and The Streamkeepers Field Guide published by The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation. Both books were designed to prevent the destruction of species.

I have always had a fascination with dogs as well as wolves and coyotes. This goes back at least as far as the time a stray dog followed me home at age ten. I have jumped out of my car along the Alaskan Highway to follow a wolf into the woods. Though my wife and I do not have a dog as a pet, due to constraints of space and urban living, I consider dogs invaluable companions. As neighbors will testify, I have an affinity with dogs but, out of fairness, I do not believe I should own one.

 

2. What off-leash areas have you visited?

I have been by the Woodland Park site. The Golden Gardens site is the only one I have been to on several occasions. I am aware of other sites based on Exhibits A-R of city ordinance 118724. At those times visiting the Golden Gardens site I was representing the Ballard District Council, surveying the site and expressing its concerns, including those of Friends of Golden Gardens. When I took on the role of President of the BDC, a resolution had been passed which opposed the specific Golden Gardens site. Opposition was based on the communityís already established usage of the site, concerns about and the environmental sensitivity of the location, e.g. the proximity of a water resource and slope stability.

 

3. How would you balance the competing desires for dedicated public spaces such as ballfields, off-leash areas, boat launches, etc.?

In trying to satisfy the competing desires, I would avoid the sacrifice of one stakeholder groupís dedicated public space to satisfy another. Rather I would hope to create new public spaces to satisfy new demand.

 

4. Seattle Municipal Code states that the Volunteer Park off-leash area is a temporary site, but it will remain open until another location on Capitol Hill can be found for a permanent off-leash area. If no other location can be found on Capitol Hill, as a Councilmember would you vote to make the temporary site a permanent site?

I have not visited that site but if the agreement states this project was implemented on a temporary basis only, then it would be difficult to justify making this site permanent. Given Volunteer Parks unique status on the National Register of Historic Places, and the value of the original design by the Olmsted Brothers firm, I would support a search for an alternative site on city property, not already set aside for park space, or non-city property when funds became available.

 

5. How would you allocate funding amongst competing city-supported recreational activities: i.e. ballfields, off-leash areas, boat launches, etc.?

I will allocate funding on a basis of proven need and the equitable distribution of city assets for recreation. My decisions will be based on the priorities of neighborhoods and community associations who have a record of devoting their time to building a more vital city for everyone. I plan to support an open space/parks bond to increase the available funds for implementing much needed projects.

 

6. Given that off-leash areas have proved to build community, deter crime, and provide a place for voting, taxpaying citizens to recreate with their family and pets, where would you support siting additional off-leash areas?

Individuals and families walking their dogs on-leash through parks have always been a valuable deterrent to crime. This activity level at all hours keeps open space safer. And certainly, gatherings of dog owners at off-leash areas have created a sense of community among those frequenting these sites, and these gatherings must deter crime, camping and sexual activity in the vicinity of the off-leash area.

 

7. When you are elected to the Seattle City Council, will you vote to support off-leash areas?

I would support off-leash areas on suitable surplus city property i.e. city light property, or non-city property at convenient sites. I would discourage the devotion of older park land to exclusive use by off-leash areas though new open space might be designed with such use in mind, if sufficient funds were available to maintain the site, stewardship was in strong evidence and environmentally critical areas were avoided. Permanent status could be granted if these conditions are met, a rigorous and thorough environmental determination of non-significance is reached and the evidence of dogs off-leash in other adjacent areas ( "spillage" ) diminishes.

see answer to question 6.

 

8. If you donít respond to this survey, can we assume that you believe dog off-leash areas are "for the birds"?

It would be unfortunate if you made that assumption, given the number of questionnaires to which each candidate must respond in a short period of time.

 

9. Please add any comments you would like to share with our members and supporters.

It has come to my attention that some members of COLA have been misinformed regarding my positions on off-leash areas. I hope my answers have helped clear up the confusion. This last year I did oppose the installation of lights in Golden Garden due to the fact that it would cause increased use of an over utilized resource. My suggestions during meetings with COLA and the Parks Department were that improvements at the site should come first. I believed the area needed recovery time in the winter, and lighting would exacerbate the deterioration of the space. Once a berm protected the nearby water source, bare ground was restored and older trees set off from a debilitating process of soil compaction , then lighting should be reconsidered. I also favored consideration of a proposed relocation site down the slope, closer to the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, reclaiming a parking lot and restoring it as open space for recreational off-leash use.

Whittemore for Seattle City Council

2442 NW Market St. ,PMB #328

Seattle, WA 98107

phone/fax: (206) 783-7932

e-mail: thomas@whittemore.org

Web site: www.whittemore.org