Push is on for taxpayer dollars to help fund dog park

By Gary Scott on July 25, 2016 at 10:26pm

Jacksonville aldermen spent a portion of Monday night’s City Council meeting discussing usage of taxpayer money for the city’s new dog park.

The agenda called for a vote on a bid of about $89,000 for base construction of the park, to be funded with money the city won in last year’s national PetSafe Bark For Your Park Contest, which unanimously passed later in the meeting.

The low bidder was Jacksonville-based Turner Paint and Construction.

However, Alderwoman Marcy Patterson proposed to the council during the workshop that the city spends about $12,000 towards water access for the park.

Alderman Don Cook voiced opposition to the idea.

“This City Council made a commitment to the taxpayers when this whole program started that we would not use any tax dollars, and I intend on keeping that commitment,” Cook says. “Again, I’m not against the dog park, I’m against the fact that they’re asking for tax dollar money when they said they would not even use it.”

Cook notes that in recent years, Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens agreed not to spend additional taxpayer money on the JPD’s shooting range and training center.

“If we start doing it here for the dog park, we’re going to do it for other people that we had the same agreement with, and you know what, it’s not fair to the police department,” he says.

Patterson acknowledges that she agreed not to use city money for the park, but that she has changed her mind and will be petitioning fellow aldermen and the mayor for the money.

“It’s not that big of a deal, it’s $12,000. I understand that $12,000 sounds like a lot of money, but we approve lots and lots of money, and this $12,000 is going to benefit a lot of people,” Patterson says.

“There were 30 people here tonight that have been working on this, and they want running water at the dog park. They want to be able to give their dog a drink. PetSafe is going to want to see that we have water-accessible [features]. So, we’re going to continue to push that issue,” she adds.

The plan is to have the dog park open in September.

Also Monday night, alderman voted 6-3 against a two-percent raise for the recycling contract of Area Disposal Services. We’ll have more details on that coming up in a future newscast.