It appears the World’s Most Expensive Dog Park might be approved Monday by three members of the Mission Viejo City Council. They have selected December 3 as prime time for this controversial item – after the election and while the taxpaying citizens are distracted with the holidays. In government-speak that’s known as “agenda management.”
Agendas aren’t revealed until three business days before a meeting, but supporters of this million-dollar pet project were tipped off by City Hall a couple weeks ago. They have been mobilizing their we-don’t-care-how-much-it-costs group to write emails and appear at Monday’s 6 p.m. Council meeting.
Hopefully the group’s dogs are less vicious than their masters, who have been calling opponents dog-haters. Project detractors, many of whom are dog owners, say they dislike the ridiculous and embarrassing cost, not the idea of a dog park.
The barkers have politicians backed against the wall. Only Councilwomen Cathy Schlicht and Rhonda Reardon have stood for fiscal common sense on this issue. The dog park lobby tried hard, but failed, to defeat Schlicht in last month’s election.
The City has already spent $230,000 in study and design costs, which is more than other cities have spent for a complete dog parks. On Monday the Council will be asked to take an $860,000 bite from City funds. Construction would begin after a bid is awarded in March.
Ury’s litter of political supporters is trying to justify the extravagance by claiming it will be paid from about $8 million in recreational fees the City generated from developers. The builders agreed to pay in exchange for zoning change approvals for permitting high density housing. Supporters are contending the dog park will therefore not be paid by taxpayers, but like any other revenue source, that money belongs to taxpayers. In addition, the $5 million Tennis Center renovation and the additional upcoming repairs and remodeling to the Nadadores Swimming Complex will already far exceed that $8 million.
City Hall has used a shell game with developer fees to justify its continuing spending frenzy. City reserves have decreased by over $10 million in recent years, and Mission Viejo’s reserves are in worse condition than adjacent South County cities.
The six acre dog park would be located off Felipe road just south of Gilleran Park.