FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Residents took action into their own hands Sunday to clean around the dog-washing station at Liza Jackson Park in Fort Walton Beach.

Janet Marcus said the area of the water-front park is neglected. The weeds and standing water started growing algae around the washing station.

“The last time I was there with my dogs it was so disgustingly dirty, and overgrown and full of algae,” said Marcus. “I wanted to go back on my own without the dogs and clean it up.”

Marcus called on her friend Jason Harwell with Erase the Trace to help. The two used shovels, brushes and blowers to clear the area.

“The dog washing area was completely covered with about four inches of sand and grass and weeds and trash,” said Marcus. “So you didn’t even, you couldn’t even walk on concrete before we had cleared it away.”

Underneath sits a bone-shaped concrete platform and walkway to the washing station.

Liza Jackson Park is located at 3378 Miracle Strip Parkway. The park is one of few dog parks with beaches in the area. Marcus said the park is always full of tourists, locals and those taking boats on and off the water.

“With all the people that have functions there at that pavilion and all the visitors spirits just constantly trash and also the grass this time was at least knee high,” said Marcus. “It was very overgrown.”

Fort Walton Beach resident Jason Harwell said he had no idea the area was supposed to be a dog bone until they uncovered the growth.

The City of Fort Walton Beach Parks and Recreation Department said the staff is aware of the problem areas at Liza Jackson Park. The city said due to recent rain in the last 10 days, crews could not get equipment to the areas. “The team is aware of the areas that need attention and will get to them as soon as weather permits,” said the Parks and Recreation department.

Marcus told WKRG News 5 that lack of maintenance is not a new problem at the park. She cleaned it herself two years ago after seeing immense growth at the washing station. “The whole time we were working, numerous people kept thanking us for doing this because it’s something they’ve noticed and wish something would have been done,” said Marcus. “Other people even stopped and said that they had contacted the city, but that it fell on deaf ears and was never addressed to maintain.”

A local pressure washing company took a turn at the park Monday afternoon to clean the concrete area.

To report issues relating to city parks in Fort Walton Beach, call (850)833-9576.

More from FWB Parks and Recreation Department:

We normally have an 8-person Department of Corrections Crew that works Monday – Thursday.  They replaced our Right of Way Maintenance Crew about 10 years ago.Over the last 16-18 months, those crews have been unable to travel due to Covid and Correction officer staffing shortages. Our Parks workers have taken on this responsibility in order to cover many of those areas. In addition to normal City park maintenance, we are on our 7th tournament in a row at the Recreation Center. Our Parks Crew has been coming in at 5am to get fields ready for 8am games, which they then leave at 2pm.  The tournament season concludes this Saturday, so our Parks crew will be able to return to a more normal operation schedule. The City understands many of the community members enjoy utilizing the Liza Jackson Dog Park, and we would like to thank the citizens who took it upon themselves to tidy up the dog washing space. We will ensure these areas receive better maintenance and care moving forward.

City of Fort Walton Beach