Retention basin at Superstition Boulevard, Idaho Road considered for off-leash dog park

Separate areas would be provided for large/small dogs at the proposed off-leash dog park. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

An off-leash dog park could be constructed in a retention basin at the Pinal County complex on the southeast corner of Superstition Boulevard and Idaho Road, Apache Junction City Council was told recently.

Funding sources for the estimated $650,000 cost of the park could be development fees, grants and gifts, corporate partnerships and fundraising events, Liz Langenbach, director of the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department, said at the council’s June 3 work session.

A graphic of the off-leash dog park concept discussed June 3. (City of Apache Junction)

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission is recommending the retention basin after considering a half-dozen sites and focusing on three: The 2.6-acre Pinal County retention basin site; spending $3.5 million to have a 4.3-acre dog park at Prospector Park, 3015 N. Idaho Road; or spending $4 million for 4.4 acres at Silly Mountain Park, 3565 S. Silly Mountain Road, Ms. Langenbach said.

Liz Langenbach

“They are all on [Bureau of Land Management] land, but the county complex actually holds a patent to that BLM land, which means that it’s more in their name than it is in BLM’s; it’s there for pretty much forever,” she said, adding that Silly Mountain and Prospector parks are on leased BLM land.

Items of consensus on a dog park among citizens, Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Commission members and an Arizona State University Project Cities report, according to a document with the agenda, are:

  • Because of the cost, a smaller-scale park with basic amenities, close to residents, should be considered.
  • An off-leash park should be a minimum of 1-acre, with grass, 5-foot-tall fencing and separate areas for large/small dogs.
  • Additional top amenities include shade, seating for owners and a water source.

There are many mature shade trees, and existing electrical and irrigation lines at the county retention basin, Ms. Langenbach said to the council.

Because the retention area holds rainwater for long periods of time, funding would be used to redesign it to drain it, she said.

“This is the site we’re looking at right now: Lower costs, with all of the basics that we’re interested in; it’s closest to residents and where our thickest density of residents are; it’s an existing city-maintained area; it exceeds the minimum land requirements recommended by the ASU Project Cities report; and it mitigates the current drainage deficiencies” at the retention area, Ms. Langenbach said to the council.

No decision was made by the council at the work session. Ms. Langenbach said the council would need to vote at a future meeting on the off-leash dog park’s location and an intergovernmental agreement with Pinal County.

“I’ve waited for this for 12 years. Thank you,” Councilwoman Robin Barker said.

Councilmember Robert Schroeder (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Councilman Robert Schroeder, by phone, asked what the liability was for the city with an off-leash dog park.

“Is there a level … of liability to the city if anything should go astray, no pun intended?” he asked.

City Attorney Joel Stern. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“There would probably be a join indemnification agreement for dog fights or … actually owner fights, more likely, but we’d have to come up with language that the county would accept,” City Attorney Joel Stern said.

“In all of our parks, there is an element of risk at every single thing we do — our skate park, climbing wall — and as of now we did talk to Southwest Risk and they don’t require the coverage for a dog park that I’m aware of,” Ms. Langenbach said.

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

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