An incendiary Facebook post by local talk show personality Shaun McClusky said Marana was "locked down like Ft Knox" after town staff put padlocks on the gates of fields near schools that were dealing with regular incidents of dogs off leashes and forsaken dog poop. But McClusky left out one important detail: The gates were locked but remained open.
The photos in the post are close up enough that it takes the keen eye of an amateur sleuth to determine the gates were indeed open, a discovery confirmed by three Marana staff.
Marana put padlocks on the gates, but kept them open at a number of shared-use fields next to schools to deter dog owners from letting their dogs off their leashes. The fields are maintained by Marana Parks and Recreation, and are enjoyed by both dog walkers and local youth sport teams for practice.
The field in question, Continental Reserve, is technically on a school's grounds. And lately, not all dog walkers are picking up after their furry friends or keeping them on a leash, both requirements posted on signs at shared-use fields, according to town staff. For a short time, there was a sign at one park saying it was closed during school hours, but the town took it down.
"We've had some of the little league teams very upset about having to clean up the fields," says Marana Communications Specialist Brad Allis.
Parks and Recreation Director Jim Conroy says while it's not prohibited to walk dogs in any park or field, Parks and Rec would prefer if dogs stayed off the ball fields. Dog feces and football, baseball, rugby (really any sport that involves sliding, rolling or being thrown into the grass) just don't mix.
Of course, Marana has three popular dog parks, with two more in the works at Tangerine Sky Community Park. Part of what prompted the gates being locked open was residents calling Animal Services to complain about dogs being off their leashes and there was an abundance of feces.
Animal Control officers patrol all the parks, and if they see someone violating the rules, they try to have a discussion "to educate the public," says community development director Lisa Shafer. Officers will only give a citation if people refuse to comply.
"We're just saying leash your dog and clean up after your dog," Shafer says. "Most of the time, we talk to them, and they're pretty good about it after that."