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HOA board learns dog parks are expensive

Q: I am the vice president of a homeowners association in Las Vegas, which is considering establishing dog parks. I would like to talk to a HOA that has dog parks but have not been able to find any.

A: I have invited Mitzi Mills, who holds CAI designations: CAM, AMS, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, and is the executive director of Sun City Summerlin Community Association, to respond to your question:

We recently looked into adding an official dog park to our community with separate sections for large and small dogs. In the end we did not proceed. Here are the main reasons:

■ Location could impact property values of surrounding homes, and therefore finding an ideal solution in an existing community is almost impossible.

■ An identification program would be required to keep tracks of vaccination dates would be mandatory to lessen the liability, requiring in our situation a software system and assignment of staff to monitor.

■ In order to lock people out that should not be in the area, you almost need to have an electronic gate system. If you do not, then those who have not registered their dogs or have expired tags could still enter.

■ Dog diseases and sicknesses can be spread in a dog park if the area is not sanitized. In city parks people use at their own risk, but in an HOA, owners expect more.

■ Guests of owners, dog walkers, etc. will piggy back on registered dogs electronic entrance to get in.

■ Depending on location, owners will want a restroom and drinking fountains for their use.

■ Noise issues from whistles, people and dogs barking also were a consideration.

When I was the executive director at Sun City Grand in Surprise, Arizona (Phoenix area) we built a state-of-the-art dog park with artificial turf and a built-in cleaning system that sanitized the turf at night. This was almost 15 years ago and the cost just to build the park was $100,000. This did not take into account the daily required maintenance, the cost of dog waste bags, the emergency maintenance issues and the lighting cost for early morning and evening.

The insurance companies many years were not as concerned about dog parks, now with the rise in claims for dogs attacking humans (especially children) and other pets, that has changed.

Sorry to be so negative, I think if we could have found the perfect location to overcome Nos. 1 through 7, our outcome would have probably have been to build the park if we could have gotten an insurance carrier to support it.

Barbara Holland, CPM is an author, educator and expert witness on real estate issues pertaining to management and brokerage. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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