Originally Published: November 21, 2014 6:03 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Shiny stainless steel dog- and kid-friendly water fountains stand in the center, surrounded by a half-acre of bright green turf, and sheltered by a large new ramada.
Things are moving along at Prescott's Dream Dog Park project - so much so that sponsors at the Purina Beneful dog food company have now set a date for the official unveiling.
The event, which will be open to the public, will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Willow Creek Dog Park, 3181 Willow Creek Road.
"The Beneful Dream Dog Park renovation at Willow Creek Dog Park is going really well," Moronké Tyler, Beneful brand team member, said Thursday. "We're excited to share that the park will be complete and opening Wednesday, December 10. We're having a big celebration at 11 a.m. on that day to officially unveil the finished park and invite everyone to join us."
Along with the opportunity for an up-close look at the renovated park, the event also will feature a photo booth, caricature artist, and treats for people and their dogs.
In recent weeks, the City of Prescott's dog park has been the site of an extensive construction project. Crews have been on-hand virtually every day to complete the $500,000 renovation that local resident Linda Nichols won for the community from Beneful.
The grand opening will take place about a year after the company announced that Nichols was the Dream Dog Park winner with her firefighter theme, a tribute to Prescott's 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Indeed, firefighter references are everywhere in the park décor - from the red-and-yellow color scheme on the tables in the ramada, to the red "hydrant" misters, to the striking brick and metal entrance that commemorates the history of the Prescott Fire Department.
And still to come will be installation of a replicated antique fire truck, offering another spot for dogs and their owners to play and practice agility, in addition to the row of colorful half-buried tractor tires running along one side.
The initial design was announced at an August event that brought out celebrity contractor Jason Cameron (host of DIY Network's "Desperate Landscapes," "Man Caves" and "Sledgehammer"), who has managed the renovation, and pet expert Arden Moore, who has been overseeing the renovation from a dog's point of view.
The December opening will feature return appearances by Cameron and Moore. They will be joined by Nichols and her dog Callie, Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall, and other city officials.
Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes noted Wednesday that the renovated park would include a number of features that the city's old park lacked. For instance, a poured-rubber three-foot-wide walkway will border the park, and two shade structures will be available.
In addition, a large portion of the park will be covered in "canine grass" - an artificial turf that will be easy to keep clean. And, a centerpiece water feature will dispense mist to help beat the heat.
Throughout the project, Baynes said city officials have had plenty of input. "They have kept me really informed," he said. "I talked with Jason Cameron almost every day."
Nichols said she also has been involved throughout, passing along to Beneful the suggestions she has received from friends and acquaintances.
"What we had before was wonderful," Nichols said of the previous fenced-in field. "But what we're going to have is going to be really, really nice."
Although Beneful officials originally estimated that the grand opening would happen before Thanksgiving, Baynes said the project experienced a slight delay early on.
"There was a little delay getting the plans," he said, "but once it was approved, it has been on schedule."
During the construction phase, the community's dog-park activity was moved to the nearby ballfield at Willow Creek Park.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.