The newest amenity at Grays Harbor’s oldest county park gives dogs, both large and small, a place to play off-leash.
Situated next to the main parking lot and pond on the east side of Vance Creek County Park near Elma, Vance Creek Dog Park, which opened to the public last week, will add appeal to the already-popular attraction for walking, fishing and any number of other activities, said Mark Cox, facilities director with Grays Harbor County.
“So many people come out here and walk their dogs already, now they’ll have the ability to bring their dogs over and get some exercise,” Cox said while he watched dogs play at the park on Friday, Oct. 27.
At a patch of land previously covered with balding grass now sits a corner of fresh landscaping. Black fencing corrals areas of lush hydroseeded grass lawns transected by gravel walking paths complete with shallow concrete curbing and neighbored by several young maple trees. Fencing divides two play areas: a 16,000-square-foot section for large dogs and a 3,200-square-foot area for small and special needs dogs, each complete with water fountains for both human and pet.
“We wanted to have room for multiple people, multiple dogs,” Cox said.
A final addition to the park, Cox said, will be awnings to cover a pair of seating areas.
Out for a walk last Friday at Vance Creek were Mark and Laurie Jones, joined by Kiwi, a Frenchton they were dog-sitting for a friend. They became the first members of the public to visit the park.
“We’ve always come down here and walked and enjoyed this, but the dog park, that’s a wonderful community asset,” Mark Jones said as Kiwi explored the small dog area.
Like many public works projects of the last few years, Vance Creek Dog Park fell victim to rising material costs and delays from the pandemic. Planning for the park first began five years ago, Cox said, when estimates came in at about $100,000 for the project. After soliciting bids for last year, contractors came back with projections sufficiently higher than double that amount. The Grays Harbor County Board of Commissioners in January approved a $251,000 bid from Brumfield Construction to complete the work. The project cost $283,000, which will come from the county’s general fund.
The dog park is the latest in a string of improvements to Vance Creek County Park in the last few years. In 2021 the Druzianich family donated a blue and green set of playground equipment, which stands nearby to the dog park, and in between them a freshly-paved parking lot refurbished by the county earlier this year.
Vance Creek Park became Grays Harbor County’s first in 1988, when the county dedicated the park and named it after an early to mid 20th-century lumberman and port Commissioner Joseph Vance. The park features a pair of 12- to 15-acre ponds, the easternmost of which is circled by a walking path.
Cox said he hopes future ideas for the park include expanding walking paths on other lakes.