"It's not often you'll hear a politician say this, but you were right and I was wrong," quipped Vice-Mayor Dick Wolfe at the grand opening of the Payson Off-Leash Park a year-long project Wolfe stopped fighting Saturday morning, as the town's newest facility went to the dogs.
As a crowd of about 100 jubilant canine owners and their furry, four-legged friends partied on the 1.5-acre grounds just north of the new library at Rumsey Park, Mayor Ray Schum used a pair of oversized scissors to help the ribbon-cutting ceremony live up to its designation.
"I just can't believe this day is finally here," said Vivian Taylor, president of Paws in the Park, the group of area dog owners that worked the past 12 months to drive the project from controversial idea to celebrated reality and that now monitors the park for safety and cleanliness.
Accompanying the celebration was a revision of the park users' rules and regulations, which have been fine-tuned to enhance its benefits and enjoyment quotient while preventing as many potential problems as possible:
Park use is at your own risk.
All dogs must be currently licensed and vaccinated.
Park users are legally liable for the acts and behavior of their dog at all times.
Owners/handlers must stay in the park WITH their dogs.
No female dogs in heat are permitted.
No puppies under 4 months are permitted.
Leash your dog when entering and exiting park.
No food, alcohol, dog chews or glass containers.
Bag and dispose of your dog's waste IMMEDIATELY.
Aggressive dogs must be leashed and removed from the park IMMEDIATELY.
Children under 13 years must be accompanied by an adult. Keep small children under close supervision.
Dogs should be under voice control.
Fill any holes your dog digs.
Failure to comply with any park rules may result in the summoning of Animal Control at 474-5177.
Although the Payson Off-Leash Park is now up and open, Paws in the Park will continue to raise funds for improvements and amenities. Those who wish to make donations can mail their checks or money orders to Paws in the Park, P.O. Box 1108, Payson, AZ 85547.
For more information, call Christy Wrather at 476-2239.