The Million Dollar Dog Park
By Larry Gilbert
By Larry Gilbert
Many long time residents support a dog park but have opposed spending upwards of one million dollars to create one. If the article printed recently in a local paper is accurate, we have now broken that magic ceiling.
A recent front page feature in the Saddleback Valley News addressed the City of Mission Viejo’s new dog park and detailed a recently released contract for $888,888 to construct the dog park. However, the reporter failed to include the full project cost. City records indicate that the dog park costs are $1,121,176 – and that’s only for Phase One. The figure also fails to include the $250,000 more in “Professional Services” that must be added to the tab for Phase One.
The additional Professional Services expense represents 25% above what readers were led to believe. This begs the question; is the city trying to hide the true cost knowing that taxpayers would be less likely to support a one-million-dollar-plus dog park? It’s hard to say, but I've learned over time that when writing about public agency spending, the key is to ask the right questions. If it’s not in the agency’s best interest to disclose for example, that they are spending a quarter of a million dollars in consulting fees on top of the cost of construction, they will reveal only the actual construction costs. In covering news in our city, I was once told that it is not the city’s responsibility to help you by suggesting the correct questions to ask.
Now that I know the dog park is costing more-than-a-million, the next thought that occurred to me was that at least some of the excessive amount of money being spent on the dog park might have been better spent on adding restrooms to our existing parks. Only 9 of Mission Viejo’s 39 parks have restrooms, leaving AYSO, baseball and football players and their families to urinate in bushes or behind trees. Contrast that with the City Of San Clemente, which has restrooms in 13 of its 18 parks. Don’t get me wrong; I like dogs, but don’t our families deserve to have restrooms at our sports facilities?
If you agree, let your council members know what you think about the amount the city is spending on the dog park. While you’re at it, you may want to suggest that they use developer fees to add restrooms to our existing parks.
To email the council members, type the first letter of their first name plus their last email@example.com.
Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. Larry is also a former Board Member of South Coast Christian Assembly church and leader of their Senior Ministry.