Monday, November 25, 2002

City agrees
to build Mililani
Mauka dog park

After years of lobbying,
residents win approval
for a leash-free area

By Genevieve A. Suzuki

Mililani resident Donna Stovall thinks a dog park would be an ideal way for her 6-year-old golden Labrador retriever, Kenai, to get more exercise.

"I have a large dog, and there's no place to allow her to run a little bit. Walking on a leash is kind of sad if she can't run."

Mililani residents have been lobbying the city for a "couple of years" to build a dog park similar to the ones at Diamond Head and the Hawaiian Humane Society in Moiliili. And their efforts have paid off.

The city will build a dog park next to the Mililani Mauka park and ride next year, said Bill Balfour, the director of parks and recreation.

A dog park is an enclosed off-leash area where owners can take their dogs to get exercise. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their dogs and ensuring that their pets are properly trained.

The dog park was originally slated for Kamaio Park by the Safeway store in the older section of Mililani.

Stovall collected 70 signatures in favor of a dog park from Mililani residents in one morning and submitted them to former Councilwoman Rene Mansho.

She said everyone she has spoken to has been supportive but unwilling to show up at public meetings.

"But the signatures worked, hopefully," Stovall said.

Balfour said the city decided against Kamaio Park because of nearby residents' concerns.

"It was controversial because neighbors view it as their own private space," said Dick Poirier, chairman of the Mililani Neighborhood Board.

"On its merits, if you've seen the other parks, it's hard to be against it," Poirier said. "They're not noisy. There are no lights."

Poirier said he and a group of other Mililani residents went to look at the dog parks at Diamond Head and the Humane Society.

"They're basically simple things," Poirier said. "If I were a dog owner -- which I'm not -- it'd be a great thing."

All a dog park really needs is water and fencing, Poirier said.

"The (Parks & Recreation) department will need to grass the area chosen for the dog park, provide water, benches, trees and fencing," said city spokeswoman Carol Costa.

Funding for the dog park will come out of next year's budget for the Parks & Recreation Department, according to Balfour.

Jerry Siegle, a Mililani resident who supports an off-leash area for dogs, said he has seen dog parks in Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada.

"They seem to be doing very well," Siegle said.

"In Mililani Town, I would guess most parks have signs saying, 'No Animals,'" Siegle said.

"The city has recognized that and would like to dedicate park space for off-leash dog use."

The city is also planning to build another dog park, at Moanalua Community Park, by the end of the year, according to Balfour.

Siegle said a dog park should be just as important as a skateboard park and a place for rollerbladers.

"The community needs a spectrum of recreational activities that include a small off-leash dog park area," Siegle said.

Hawaiian Humane Society dog parks page

E-mail to City Desk


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