Grace Sepanski and Jack Tow watch their dogs at the Sun City Grand dog park Monday afternoon. The two say they are frustrated with the current state of the community's only dog park. Sun City Grand's Board of Directors is considering a $300,000 proposal for renovating the park.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

Increased use of the community’s dog park has forced Sun City Grand officials to consider providing more usable space and amenities for man and his best friend.

A proposed expansion includes either natural sod or a synthetic turf for pets. The park is near the Chaparral Center’s tennis courts and model train display.

Discussions on the park’s feasibility began in December 2008, when Grand’s residential board of directors first considered expanding the space and incorporate new features, including separate areas for small and large dogs, new entrances and exits, and added shading, seating and water fountains, said Mitzi Mills, the board’s executive director.

The board of directors was expected to discuss the matter last week during its monthly meeting, but Mills asked for the proposal to be tabled until March 10, when more specifics about the synthetic turf could be answered.

Mills said the board will discuss whether the proposed turf is pet friendly and would be suitable for year-round use.

Under the proposal, the play area would increase with the removal of 4,037 square feet of granite planter beds that abut the fence line. The existing ramada and concrete sidewalk and pad will also be removed, increasing play space without moving the existing fence line.

Pet owners and man’s best friend would also see an additional three dual drinking fountains — one for owners to drink from and the lower ground-level faucet for pets — scattered throughout the park that would replace the existing fountain that is worn out and leaks.

Additionally, a total of 13, 8-foot-long cabana-style benches, covered with the Sun City Grand signature blue color shading, would greet pet owners at the pet park.

There are 10 benches in the pet park. Pet owners would also see an additional two waste receptacles — there are four — to pick up trash and dog excrement.

To mitigate resident concerns that synthetic turf may be hotter than natural grass during the summer months, the board of directors believes sail shades over the turf area that are not directly shaded by trees will protect pets and their owners.

The color, shape and design would complement and tie in the view of the Adobe pool area, with the consensus among users in the area saying their addition lengthens usable hours at the pet park in the summer months. Currently, in the heat of the day, the area is not usable by many because of the direct sun.

As of December 2010, 271 homes and 337 dogs were registered to use the pet park. A community study reveals there are 283 members of the Sun City Grand Pet Club.

The majority of park use takes place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily, with an average of 63 visits.

Five vendors have been selected for the project, with each giving an estimated price on the proposed synthetic turf and natural grass models. Prices range from roughly $316,000 to $455,000 for the natural grass model that includes regular upkeep, and $207,000 to $298,000 for the synthetic turf proposal.

Residents Jean and Les Bonde are longtime members of the Sun City Grand Pet Club and have their German shepherd, GG, registered to use the pet park. The Bondes said they support separating the park into two separate areas for small and large dogs to play and congregate.

“I am unable to bring GG to the current park because owners of small dogs are afraid she will cause injury,” the couple stated in an e-mail to the board of directors. “My dog needs to be able to run and play without falling over or running into a small dog.

“I believe more and more residents have companion pets, especially as our population ages and life partners die. The pet park needs to be an amenity we show and use with pride for all our residents.”

Meanwhile, resident Paula Forster said she’s all for changing the makeup of the park with the separation of small and larger dogs.

However, Forster believes community officials play favorites with other clubs by addressing the needs of those who play golf, pickleball — and all the other groups “with the biggest mouths” — before administering to the pet club, causing the often unsightly nature of the dog park.

“It’s unfair that even though we have hundreds of dogs, we seem to be last on the list for anything,” she stated in an e-mail to the board of directors. “This project has been on the books for years and even the board members don’t seem to know what’s needed.”

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or

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