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Cost of Arlington County's Dog Parks Skyrocketing?

The cost of dog parks in Arlington County are skyrocketing. When the one at Fort Ethan Allen, near the east side of the Madison Community Center, 3829 N. Stafford Street, was whittled down from 26,000 square feet to a 22,000 square foot off-leash dog park in 2004, the cost came to $21.41 per square foot. According to the Manager's report, dated December 11, 2004, the new park's fiscal impact would be:

"The proposed relocated Community Canine Area is currently estimated to cost approximately $471,000, including standard construction contingencies. The increase from the previous budget of $400,000 is due to sharp inflation in construction material costs, partly due to the rising prices of steel and diesel fuel, and due to additions to the project scope beyond what was originally envisioned, such as the low deck and improvements to the children’s play area. The budget includes all of the design elements, including fencing, surfacing, drainage, pathways, landscaping, site furniture, etc., as well as removal of the existing CCA in the Historic District.

"Funding for this project is available in the Capital Reserve, and the appropriation will be requested at the time of construction contract award in 2005."

To access the Manager's report, see our December 20, 2004 Growls.

But apparently the same crowd of bureaucrats who brought us the $1 million Super Stop bus stops (see our growls dated March 29, 2013) have designed a $1.6 million dog park. See May 22, 2013 story posted at ARLnow.com. The Manager's report for the Arlington County Board's May 19, 2012 meeting (see agenda item 24) recommended the contract be approved for $1.46 million with a $219,587 contingency, or a total of nearly $1.7 million.

Never fear, however, the dogs will frolic in a park developed with sustainable practices and will be able to enjoy public art, according to the May 19, 2012 press release. Looks like no detail was ignored by staff, according to the Manager's report, which said:

"Thoughtbarn (TB), a multidisciplinary design firm, has been brought aboard to design, fabricate, and install the park signage, as part of a Public Art project. Utilizing a unique approach to integrating form, text, iconography, and alternative energy sources, TB has created signage that provides effective information and direction, encourages the learning experience, creates a sense of place, and enhances the over-all image of the park.

"In addition, the County has collaborated with Alfred State College (ASC) of New York, leaders in training and development in the field of alternative energy technologies, to integrate renewable energy sources (solar power) into the park. ASC is providing design guidance, training, and installation of the solar system. This system will provide power to the pumps and controllers for a unique subsurface irrigation and water management system, as well as the park water feature. ASC also will aid TB in integrating solar technologies into the park signage, for lighting and display purposes.

"This park project strives to be on the forefront of sustainability by utilizing alternative energy, managing and recycling stormwater for use throughout the park, incorporating recycled materials into construction, as well as other best management practices." (emphases added)

So let's do a little arithmetic. The 22,000 square foot Ethan Allen dog park reportedly cost $471,000, or $21.41 per square foot. The Clarendon dog park is .85 acres (or just over 37,000 square feet). A little bit of arithmetic produces a cost per square foot of $45.49.

Now let's see how much the cost of dog parks has skyrocketed. Using the Department of Labor's CPI Calculator, we learn the 2004 cost per square foot would escalate to $26.36 if inflation were included. Thus, the difference in the 2012 cost minus the adjusted cost is $19.15. Multiplying that by 37,000 square feet (.85 acres)  means Arlington County taxpayers have spent $707,000 too much for the Clarendon Dog Park. Take your choice of whether the more than $707,000 is waste, fraud, or abuse.

Sure sounds like Arlington County needs an Inspector General.

For the location of Arlington County's nine "community canine locations," see this Parks and Recreation webpage. And according to this Treasurer webpage, we learn the cost of dog licenses is $10 for one year or $25 for three years.

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