Mesa is opening its second dog park on Saturday, diverting canines from a renegade dog park their owners claimed for them a decade ago.
The new area in Countryside Park was created in recent months after neighbors got fed up with barking dogs and an influx of cars in a fenced drainage basin.
The unofficial dog park on Eighth Street east of Stapley Drive worked in some respects, but it created too much tension with residents who lived nearby, Councilman Alex Finter said.
The conflict couldn’t have come at a worse time for Mesa. After a half-decade of severe budget cuts, there wasn’t money for a new park or a massive renovation to build one.
“We just had to find an option that wasn’t expensive,” Finter said.
And it had to have ample parking and not be too close to neighbors, which eliminated many parks. The city finally found unused space at Countryside, where it built a fence, added benches and a doggy water fountain. The cost: $29,000. The money was diverted from other budgeted projects that weren’t coming together for various reasons.
Mesa would like to have four or five dog parks eventually, said Marc Heirshberg, director of parks, recreation and commercial facilities.
“We have lots of requests for these amenities,” Heirshberg said. “This gives pet owners another place to take their dogs off leash and give them the run of the land.”
The 1.2-acre facility is smaller than the city’s other dog park, Quail Run Park at 4155 E. Virginia St. The Countryside site is fenced and includes a separate space for timid dogs. While the park has few amenities now, Heirshberg said, the city can add features and double its size when funds become available.
Mesa is reaching out to donors, especially pet-related businesses, to see if they’d help fund improvements here or at other sites, Finter said. If the city gets a response, it could trigger more park amenities for dogs.
“I think it will probably be a new model,” Finter said.
Mesa met with more than 100 residents a few months ago to discuss concerns over the retention basin, and the gathering was one of the most highly charged and well attended Finter has seen in his council district. But Mesa found residents supported the Countryside park location.
“It’s a nice way to take a bad situation and fix it,” Finter said.
Dog park grand opening
When: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Countryside Park, 3130 E. Southern Ave., Mesa
Details: Mesa will open a new dog park with light refreshments, safety information, giveaways, vendors and an 8 a.m. ribbon cutting.