Friday, July 15, 2005

City urges public-private
partnering for dog park plans

The Wongs know it is illegal.

But to give their golden retriever a little leash-free time in a city park, Tim and Lisa Wong will chance a ticket.


"Dogs love to run around," said Tim Wong, one of nearly 30 East Honolulu residents who came out last night for the first public meeting on a city dog park planned for Hawaii Kai. "We feel that dogs need a place."

The park will sit in a 1-acre patch near the park-and-ride on Keahole Street. Preliminary plans include a small dog area, shade trees, special pooch water fountains and fences concealed by bushes.

There are four dog parks on Oahu, with two operated by the city: one in Mililani and the other near Moanalua Middle School. Dog parks on Diamond Head Road and next to the Humane Society on Waialae Avenue are privately run.

City Councilman Charles Djou, whose district includes Hawaii Kai, said last night that $10,000 was included in this year's city budget for the new dog park's planning and design.

Construction cost estimates for the park range from $90,000 to $180,000, but residents were urged to think about public-private partnerships as a way to get the park on the fast track in tight economic times.

"If there's some private support and funding, then it will go quicker," said Lester Chang, director of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.

"The emphasis (under Mayor Mufi Hannemann) has been on how to maintain parks. What that means to things like dog parks ... is that they have been categorized as 'nice-to-have projects.'"

The call for a dog park in Hawaii Kai started about a year ago. A nonprofit, Hui Ilio Hawaii, was formed by dog owners to push the plan, get community support and eventually help maintain the park.

Elaine Dobashi, the organization's president, said she is working to raise money for the park's design and construction. She also wants to find an engineer who would be willing to draw up the park's design for free.

The organization has put together a dog walk for Aug. 7 in Hawaii Kai to celebrate funds being allocated to the dog park's planning and to get more people involved in the effort. Part of the event's proceeds will go to promoting the park.

"We need a place where dogs can exercise, where they can socialize with other dogs and with people," said Dobashi, who has two mixed terriers.

No one against the dog park was at last night's meeting in Hahaione Elementary School's cafeteria, though the city parks department did receive an e-mail from a member of a group that feeds feral cats in the area where the park is planned.

The volunteer was concerned, Chang said, that the dogs would push out the cats, though Dobashi said she has talked to the group's leader and negotiated a settlement that involves moving the cats further down the street.

There was one dog at the gathering. The other dog owners did not bring their pets, as they are not allowed on school grounds.

E-mail to City Desk


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