If you and your pooch like taking advantage of the free dog park in Jacksonville Beach, what's next may disappoint you.
After hearing and telling stories of the poop-ridden, poorly treated grounds of Paws Park off Penman Road, the City Council voted to charge users an annual fee.
Council members OK'd an annual fee of $50 for your first dog and $25 for all others.
"It just sucks for people who live around here because we just enjoy bringing our puppy out here to play with the dogs," park regular Rainey Arnett said.
The money will pay for an electronic swipe entry system. The device, estimated to cost about $12,000, will be designed to control who uses the park and ensure they follow rules for poop cleanup. And poop is a big problem at the park, according to park users.
"She's a puppy, so she runs right through it, and I'm just like, 'Ah, I wish they would have picked it up,'" Arnett said. "I mean, sometimes the owners don't see it or maybe they don't care, but it is a little bit of an issue."
"I pick up poop but not everybody does," said Stacey Barranco, who uses the dog park on occasion. "All you have to do is take one turn around here and a lot of people don't, and it's pretty excessive. Like, you really do walk around and see quite a bit of it."
Paws Park is the only dog park in Jacksonville Beach. To compare prices, there are four in the Jacksonville area.
Confederate Playground Dog Park is free. Fresh Prints Forest Dog Park is $25 per month or $7 per visit. Dogwood Dog Park is about $290 annually or about $35 a month or $11 a day. And Hanna Park charges just $1-3 for park entry.
So is the cost worth it?
"I mean, it is nice and it's free for now, which is really nice because it's close to my house," Barranco said. "It's a lot more convenient than Southside is, but if I had to pay, I would definitely go somewhere else."
"Every family is different, so we would probably consider it because she loves being out here," Arnett said.
A startup date wasn't given for the fee, but once it goes into effect, the City Council hopes it will become a cleaner facility.