Dog park renovations cause riff among Sun City Grand residents

SURPRISE, AZ - Taking your dog to the dog park isn’t as fun as it may sound to many Sun City Grand residents.

Dog owners in the community are calling for changes to their dog park, citing a broken water fountain, dirt patches and other issues they said need major attention. Renovating the park may sound like a simple fix, but some are divided about whether to use artificial or natural grass.

“I stand on whatever's going to be safest for the dog,” said Marilee Williams, who lives in the community. “I'm not really sure. I've heard so many sides now that I think most of us are confused.”

Natural grass would cost less to implement, and is an option Williams prefers.

“I think it's better for the environment and better for the critters,” she said.

But many, including Williams, note that artificial grass wouldn’t require re-seeding, a project that requires the park to be shut down for a couple weeks. Also, the artificial grass would open the door to get a canopy at the park to help keep the temperature down.

“Artificial allows our park to be open year-round,” said Sun City Grand Pet Club President Dean Cornille. “We don't have to close it down for over-seeding, we don't have to close it down to have the real grass aerated.”

But this isn’t the only controversy surrounding the park.

Other residents feel cost is a concern, and the money should be spent on other items. Depending on the vendor and whether or not artificial or natural grass is chosen, it could cost anywhere between $200,000 and $450,000 to implement. The money would come from a separate community fund, which is added to when someone buys a new home in the area.

“I just can't believe it actually, that we have $300,000 to spend on a dog park,” said Phyllis Olson, another member of Sun City Grand.

Other people, such as Bruce Ettenburo, agree, and feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“I think they could probably get what they need without spending $300,000 on it, $300,000 is the cost of a house,” he said.

The community’s Board of Directors are scheduled to hear arguments from all sides on March 10th. They will go back for a vote on March 24th.

While it will remain a controversial issue, Williams hopes politics and money won’t get in the way of renovating the dog park.

“We’re focusing on the artificial versus the grass, instead of getting on with it,” she said.

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