Mon, July 22

City ponders future of Cottonwood Dog Park

Jeanice Allen

Jeanice Allen

COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood City Council headed into a work session this week with three options to move Cottonwood's Riverfront Dog Park, but when they finished, they were considering four options. The council now wants more detailed information on all of them.

Something's got to give, Cottonwood's Jeanice Allen told the council. Allen, who has lived 36 years across the ditch from the 4-year-old Dog Park, is not about to move. But the barking day and night is driving her crazy. And, she says, the smell is bad.

City Manager Doug Bartosh said the city has received 28 complaints about the park, mostly from a single person.

The city is looking at three locations on city-owned land. One is next to the Adopt for Life shelter on Mingus Avenue. Another is on the North Clear Zone of the Cottonwood Airport, adjacent to Black Hills Auto Body. The third site is on Mingus Avenue, next to the reclaimed water pond , opposite the Fire Training Center.

The council heard about all three options and then from the public. It's clear the council wants more information before considering a possible move. Each of the options is estimated to cost the city about $15,000 or more. Those figures include fencing and irrigation, but not the grass, plumbing and trees installed by the volunteers and donors who built the current park.

Councilman Terence Pratt urged citizens to recognize that the city is reacting to their concerns, but he also suggested Cottonwood consider erecting a sound barrier wall to preserve the existing park.

The park at the three proposed locations would be 450 to 800 feet from residential property.

Jeanice Allen, the first audience member to speak, said the current dog park is only 75 feet from her property, and she has complained to the city about it for years. Former council member Darold Smith supported Allen's complaints, saying he had attended a birthday party there. Smith said the city should close the dog park immediately and reopen it in one of the other locations. "Allen is entitled to her peace and quiet. I don't see anyone saying bring it to my neighborhood," said Smith.

Jody Wheeler, a member of the original organizing committee, said, "We are disappointed it has turned out like this. We raised $35,000 to build the park. It is ideal for people who are disabled, and elderly persons who cannot walk their dogs."

Another organizer said it was not their intention to harm anyone. They had solicited suggestions from everyone and the city granted the site.

Resident Dan Myers went on the attack, saying the city "made a mistake. It's more than a location problem," he said. "It's about treatment of fellow citizens who asked for help for four years. And you do nothing."

But as Myers raised his voice, he was asked by the mayor and other council members to offer something positive to the conversation or sit down ... which he did.

Several dog owners praised the park, saying they love the facility. They worried because it has taken four years to establish grass and shade trees. They said the people who complained should bear the cost of moving the park.

At that point, Jeanice Allen walked out the council chambers, slamming the door behind her.

Several residents of Cottonwood Ranch discouraged relocating the park to the site behind the Humane Society, saying they can already hear the dogs at the shelter.

Resident Jess Johnson said, "It is outrageous that people complain about moving the bark park. All dogs bark and that stuff stinks. It smells up her yard."

Opinion went back and until everyone had been heard and the council told staff they wanted more details on each of the sites.

The park, suggested by Community Services Manager Richard Faust, was originally approved May 15, 2007. The Cottonwood Riverfront Dog Park Association was formed as a non-profit 501C3.

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