A few weeks ago reader Aida wrote in about the new dog park near New Hampshire Avenue and S Street in Dupont Circle. Remember that this was during the whole budget crunch debate, where vital city services were getting cut left and right. The dog park is quite fancy, complete with special astroturf called "K9Grass." It's 5,600 square feet, and has ornate fencing, a seating area, and water fountains for the dogs. You can see a Department of Parks and Recreation press release about the park here.
Since this is such a super-fancy park, I wanted to find out how much it cost to build. Maintenance will be shared between the city and Circle Dogs, a neighborhood group. I put in a request for information about construction costs with DPR a few weeks back, receiving no reply. I emailed Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) who forwarded my request to DPR.
Today I received an email from Sarah Moulton a community planner at DPR. The cost of the S Street park was $552,700.51.
So there's the figure. Make of it what you will. A little over half a million dollars for a fancy dog park. Now, I'll admit, this dog park will be fancy. I mean, really fancy. Nicer than most playgrounds for human children. I can't tell you if that price tag is a good deal or not for what the city is getting. On principle I'm not sure how I feel about the city paying for a dog park. I suppose it will raise property values in the area a little tiny bit, and it'll make dog owners happy. However, I can think of a few things that half a million dollars could be used for that would probably be more useful. Even if it had to be spent by DPR.
A fancy dog park in a rich neighborhood just seems wasteful at a time when the city is having to freeze hiring for police officers and cut services to the poor. It appears to be somewhat of a Big Deal to Dupont residents, with people upset with the poor communication between DPR and the community regarding delays in construction. DPR is terrible with communication, I've had faster responses from the DC DMV and the Office of Tax and Revenue. And nothing compares to DCRA's less than 10-minute answers via Twitter. However, complaining about how your fancy expensive dog park is delayed makes you look a bit foolish when you have homeless people on the street just a few blocks away.
What do you think? Half million for a dog park... complete waste of money?