Plans for dog parks go begging
Oahu has four off-leash dog parks -- two private and two city. The city passed legislation in 2001 authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to establish off-leash dog parks. To date, only two, in Mililani and Moanalua, have opened. I've been told parks are being planned in Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai and near Ala Wai School and that the Parks Department plans to build at least four new dog parks in various districts. How many parks are being planned, where would they be located and when will they open?
Answer: Three more dog parks are in various stages of discussion -- in Hawaii Kai, near the Ala Wai and in Kaneohe, with the one in Hawaii Kai farthest along with a proposed design that's being reviewed.
At this point, however, there is no target date as to when any new dog park might open.
"I know that there are a lot of communities that want them," acknowledged Parks Director Les Chang.
But the reality is that the community will have to get actively involved, including coming up with private funding, to get a dog park established.
The department is looking at this from "the mayor's adage of 'Do we need it, can we afford it, can we maintain it?'" Chang said. "Not to say that we don't need it," he explained, but based on more pressing funding needs for parks related to health and safety issues, dog parks fall into the "nice to have" rather than "must have" category.
While the city is not currently designating funds for dog parks, Chang said it is willing to help build a park if a community is willing to get actively involved.
"Three things have to come forth," Chang said: One, the community has to provide the majority of the resources, either donations and/or skilled labor. That includes coming up with a design that, because it will be a city park, has to be built to city specifications.
Two, the location has to be suitable for and acceptable to the community, because not everyone wants a dog park, and three, Chang said, "I would like to have some partnership with the interest group to operate and maintain" the park.
He noted that his predecessor's goal was to have a dog park in each of the department's four recreational districts: Moanalua is in District 2 and Mililani in District 3, leaving District 1 (East Honolulu) and District 4 (Windward Oahu).
In Hawaii Kai a city-owned site next to the Park and Ride has been identified as "an excellent location," Chang said. Volunteers there have been very organized and already presented the department with a design that's being reviewed.
The other one that's being looked at "very seriously" in the Honolulu area is near Ala Wai and Iolani schools.
There's no location currently being considered for a dog park on the Windward side. A possible site in Waimanalo fell through, while public access problems to a location next to the Bayview Golf Course has stymied plans for a park there, Chang said.
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