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12:18 PM Thu, Nov. 15th

Enthusiasm continues for Prescott's ‘Dream Dog Park’ after four years

Four years after completion of Prescott’s “Dream Dog Park,” the rubberized mulch that borders the artificial turf at the Willow Creek Road park is showing wear. Supporters of the park hope that sponsors will help with some of the needed repairs and maintenance. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Four years after completion of Prescott’s “Dream Dog Park,” the rubberized mulch that borders the artificial turf at the Willow Creek Road park is showing wear. Supporters of the park hope that sponsors will help with some of the needed repairs and maintenance. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

In the nearly four years since Prescott’s new “Dream Dog Park” opened to the public, upward of 1 million dogs have romped in the firefighter-themed space along Willow Creek Road.

The steady use has taken its toll.

It turned out, for instance, that the dogs like to chew on the rubberized mulch that encircles the park’s artificial turf. Today, chunks of the border are missing, while the turf itself is looking a bit faded and worn down.

“It gets so much use that it’s hard to keep up,” Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said during a recent meeting at the park with Linda Nichols, the 2013 winner of a half-million-dollar Beneful dream park renovation, and Marlin Kuykendall, Prescott’s mayor at the time.

Baynes says as many as 500 people visit the park every day — each bringing an average of two dogs. That amounts to more than 182,500 people a year, and about 365,000 dogs.

“All in all, it’s held up pretty well,” Baynes said, adding that a dedicated group of volunteers has helped to keep the park clean and maintained.

Still, he, Nichols and Kuykendall say they would like to see some improvements and regular maintenance.

Nichols entered Beneful’s dream park contest in 2013, soon after Prescott lost 19 of its Granite Mountain Hotshots during the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Nichols’ entry won the contest, and Beneful came in with a team of contractors to renovate and improve the city’s longtime dog park, using a firefighter theme.

Usage skyrocketed after the late-2014 opening of the new park, and a group of volunteers formed to help with the upkeep.

“Basically, the same people have been taking care of this park,” Nichols said.

“They have not wavered. They’re here every single Monday.”

In addition, Baynes said the recreation department brings in a crew of five or six employees each month to do cleaning and maintenance. The workers spray the park with an anti-bacterial water, he said.

Baynes says about $6,000 a year in supplies goes into the dog park’s upkeep.

Meanwhile, maintenance needs have come up. For example, Baynes said he would like to replace the rubberized mulch border with a more durable concrete apron.

The park’s water features have also been somewhat problematic. “The truth of the matter is that they never were as functional as I’d like them to be,” Baynes said.

On especially hot days, the recreation department turns on the water features, but otherwise they are not in use.

To help with the needed upgrades, Nichols said she plans to work with the recreation department on a strategy for getting sponsors for the park, selling sign space, and soliciting donations.

“We will work closely with Joe and Prescott’s legal department to see what options and requirements we need to follow,” Nichols said, adding that she hopes to move forward as soon as a plan is formulated.

“The dog park is so highly used that it is time to do some upgrades,” Nichols said. “It’s been four years, and the traffic through here has been tremendous.”

Baynes said the 2.34-acre dog park is among the city’s most visited parks. Its 180,000 or so annual visitors compares with about 90,000 at the Peavine Trail, and about 60,000 at the Constellation Trails.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.