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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Margaret Hance park in downtown Phoenix is a beautiful, grassy area in the heart of the city, but the proposed plans for the park have some of its neighbors pretty cranky.
"With dog noise, dog excrement, all of the smells, etcetera," said Cass Markovich.
A dog park is coming to Culver Street between Third and Fifth Avenues, and it isn't cheap.
"The total for the taxpayers footing this bill in a much disputed location is $420,000," said neighbor Debbi Schilling.
Officials said that money will go toward landscaping and building a 5-foot soundproof wall to keep the neighbors happy, but that's a big chunk of change at a time when the city of Phoenix is struggling. CBS 5 News went to the people who unanimously approved the park, Phoenix city council members.
"How can you explain to our viewers why this money is going to a dog park and not, maybe, to help our law enforcement officers," reporter Elizabeth Erwin asked.
"Well, basically, it's coming out of the parks budget and then police and fire have their own budget," said councilman Michael Nowakowski.
"That money wouldn't be diverted to police or fire, it would go somewhere else in parks," added councilman Tom Simplot.
For some, it's not just about the money or the mess. If you look at the city's Parks and Recreation Department website you'll see a familiar name. Councilman Nowakowski's wife is the board's chair, her bio even mentions the dog park.
"You're approving a project that she's obviously in favor of. Should you maybe have recused yourself from the vote?" Erwin asked.
"We asked the attorney, attorney's opinion was that you have no conflict of interest, there's no financial gain," Nowakowski said.
Councilman Simplot, whose district butts up to the park, said the recreational gain is huge.
"Dog parks are an important amenity for any major high-density area and that's exactly what we have now downtown. Things change and people have to be able to adapt to that," Simplot said.
The park should be finished by the end of June.
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