Off-leash dog park location, funding ideas sought for Apache Junction

City of Apache Junction officials are looking for places to construct an off-leash dog park. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Finding a place to let Fido run free may become easier as Apache Junction officials are looking into costs, location and amenities for the city’s first off-leash dog park.

Previous proposed locations for dog parks have included Prospector Park, 3015 N. Idaho Road; Silly Mountain Park, southeast of East 36th Avenue and South Silly Mountain Road; and the Pinal County complex, which has a retention basin southeast of Idaho Road and Superstition Boulevard.

Liz Langenbach

“Ten years ago we had, actually, two plans adopted by council, having one at Prospector Park or one at Silly Mountain, but because of the downturn in the economy at that time .. that was never able to be a reality,” Liz Langenbach, parks and recreation director, said to the council Aug. 7.

“We have lots of residents, lots of council members, who are very interested in the concept still,” she said.

Arizona State University students this year completed a report where they looked at locations and possible funding sources for Apache Junction dog parks, Ms. Langenbach said.

“They offered a lot of nice ideas and put some time into looking into some different options,” she said.

Apache Junction staff members have researched regional dog parks and found them costing $100,000 to $600,000 and more, she said.

In addition to development costs, funding is needed for operating and maintaining the dog park, she said.

A small dog park where grass is already growing could be fenced-in and could cost $30,000, she said.

“We don’t have a location like that where we already have some of the amenities that you must have in order to have a successful park,” Ms. Langenbach said.

Councilwoman Robin Barker suggested a trial park be constructed.

“Yes we have two plans up there; I remember those two plans well,” she said.

“They are very expensive right now, probably well beyond our means, but I think the idea of having a trial park is a good idea, at least to find out whether it gets used,” Councilwoman Barker said.

“What if we go to this great expense and we don’t utilize it at all?” she asked.

She suggested a trial area be installed at the Pinal County complex.

“I’d like to see parks and rec work with the community to see what we can do about it,” she said.

Mayor Jeff Serdy suggested a phased approach be used, such as done with Prospector Park, which had two ball fields 30 years ago.

Councilwoman Gail Evans said Sunrise Canyon housing subdivision in Apache Junction has its own dog park in a retention area.

“At fist it was just a fence and it had a bench and a couple of dog-poo bag dispensers. But then they later added some grass and it was really well-used but not really well-known,” she said.

“Something like that, where we have a smaller retention area even like the county complex to just put a simple fence up and start it and see,” Councilwoman Evans said.

The council voted 7-0 to direct city staff to work with the parks and recreation commission to explore options for an off-leash dog-park facility, including locations, short- and long-term projects, construction/maintenance costs and potential funding sources.

Voting yes were Mayor Serdy, Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and council members Jeff Struble, Mrs. Evans, Christa Rizzi, Dave Waldron and Mrs. Barker.

The Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Commission is an advisory board that recommends regulations, policies, control and improvements of public parks in Apache Junction. The commission also recommends fees for the use of public facilities, full-time and seasonal employees as necessary for the efficient management of city parks and recreational programs, according to ajcity.net/348/Parks-Recreation-Commission.

Parks and recreation commission meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the city council chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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