D.C.

Backlash over Obama spending on dog parks

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(WJLA) - The White House just celebrated the fifth anniversary of President Obama's stimulus bill. The $830 billion spending plan was sold as the key to driving up economic growth and driving down unemployment.

Now, it’s sparking a four-legged controversy.

"We're building on provisions in the Recovery Act to forbid the use of these funds to build things like dog parks," said President Obama at the 2009 National Conference of State Legislatures.

Several D.C. residents who are looking back on that speech are crying foul. They say President Obama let the leash go on his promise.

"No plan is perfect and I can't stand here and promise you that not one single dollar will slip through the cracks," said the President five years ago.

Americans for Tax Reform, a fiscal watchdog group, says thousands of stimulus dollars have literally "gone to the dogs."

“This is money that could have been better spent on Medicare on Medicaid on social security," said Mattie Duppler, ATR’s Director of Budget and Regulatory Policy.

She discovered more than $92,000 spent on Marion Park in Capitol Hill.

“The President himself had pointed out that dog parks are not a project that he would consider to be something that would be particularly stimulative and would be going to creating jobs," she said.

A spokeswoman with the National Park Service which owns the land is trying to clear up the confusion. “This is a popular spot for kids to play and for people to walk their dogs, and dogs on-leash are welcome,” said Andrea Dekoter. “It is not, however, a ‘dog park.’”

"I would say it is widely used as a dog park," said Terefe Abera. He’s a professional dog walker who visits Marion Park daily. He remembers the construction in 2010.

“I saw maybe four people at most working at a time," he recalled.

NPS says it hired a crew of five to work on this and other nearby Recovery Act projects. The improvements at Marion Park included repairing and replacing the iron fence, fixing damaged sidewalks and putting in new park benches and trash cans.

“How they allocated $90,000 for the efforts they put in here is beyond me," said dog owner Frank Young.

“Did it spur jobs,” questioned Jenn Bussell. “Did it create jobs [and] did it help support the local economy,” she continued asking. “I would say no."

Despite her feelings on job creation, she still supports the work done even though it took taxpayer dollars to keep the tails wagging.

“I feel like the dog population of sort of dogs and dog owners is fairly under-served considering the population of dogs in the city is actually about 25 to 30 thousand dogs,” she said.

We reached out to the White House for comment, but have not heard back. The Recovery Act is touted as saving or creating about six million full-time jobs. Each lasted a year.

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