Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

Momentum increases towards efforts to build a dog park

Photo by Nick D’Angelo – This is the parking lot that was built after the city demolished the Sahara Hotel in 2010. Originally, some wanted to build half of the parking lot as a dog park.

A downtown Phoenix resident is getting signatures for a petition to build a dog park in downtown Phoenix. On that day, there is a joint meeting between the Parks Board and the Parks, Arts, Family and Seniors (PAFS) subcommittee. At that meeting, downtown resident Sean Sweat plans to present the petition.

On June 13, the petition to have a dog park built in Downtown Phoenix reached 300 signatures.

A local controversy began when Sahara Hotel was demolished in October 2010. When the original plan to turn the Sahara lot into a dog park fell through, the lot remained a green parking lot visible outside the windows of Taylor Place.

Since the demolition of the Sahara Hotel, downtown resident Sean Sweat has actively worked to have a dog park built downtown.

His most recent effort has been the aforementioned petition, which he plans to take to a joint meeting between the Parks Board and the Parks, Arts, Family and Seniors (PAFS) subcommittee on June 21. By that time, Sweat plans to get word out to as many downtown residents as he can.

Others have worked with Sweat on this cause. Bryan Bazley, Phoenix area resident, posted the petition on Change.org. Sweat says that local condos have sent many letters of support. He also has received help from others with social media.

“So far, it’s really just been within our social media network,” Sweat said, “I want to make a more concerted physical effort towards the end of this week to try to get flyers and something tangible out.”

The Margaret T. Hance Park Steering Committee approved a temporary dog park in Hance Park on March 6. But Sweat is against the idea. He says that the area is low density and that not a lot of people would walk to the park.

Another objection Sweat had was the idea of a “temporary” dog park.

“That’s an improvement, though we’re not going for temporary use anymore,” said Sweat.

Reasons given at the time for the Hance Park location were that it would be temporary, allowing for a later move to a better location and that it provided a solution to the area’s need for a dog park.

“City Hall 2 years ago was not receptive to this. City Hall today, I’m hoping, is,” said Sweat.

Sweat has hope for Mayor Stanton’s administration to be more receptive of the idea than Mayor Gordon’s administration. He also wants to get more support from city council members.

-Nick D’Angelo, Education Editor

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