Parks going to the dogs
Owners must raise funds to establish parks for their pets
Pet owners who want dog parks in McCully and Hawaii Kai are learning a new trick: fundraising.
The city Parks Department has approved two locations for dog parks at the Ala Wai Community Center and in Hawaii Kai next to Hawaii Kai Park and Ride. One more on the Windward side is pending.
But there's a catch.
Dog owners have to raise money to get the dog park built -- up to $75,000 -- and more money each year to cover the cost of maintaining the park.
That's a lot of fundraising dog walks.
"We really have to work with the community because we can't do this on our own," said Shaunna Tabor, president of the Ala Wai K-9 Playground Association.
The Ala Wai association will host a fundraising dinner and dog walk in October.
The money would be used for fencing and drinkable water, which is not easily accessible, said Lester Chang, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Some of the proceeds that the Ala Wai association hopes to raise will go toward fixing a drainage problem near the canal.
Dog owners of the Ala Wai association continue to walk their dogs at the community park, despite the sewer bypass project in the canal.
"Is raising the money doable? The Hawaii Kai group is the furthest along, especially since they were able to get help from the community, a very critical aspect," Chang said.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Members of the Ala Wai K-9 Playground Association gathered June 6 at the site of their future dog park. Alexandra Edrich held her dogs, Sissy and Tootsie; Cammy Samora hoisted her dog Pebbles; and Shaunna Tabor hugged her Buddy.
Hui Ilio Hawaii, a Hawaii Kai dog park association, is among these associations and claims that fundraiser proceeds might not be enough. Within the two years since site approval, members raised $6,000 from a recent dog walk but, like the Ala Wai association, hope to raise $75,000.
According to Hui Ilio President Elaine Dobashi, help from corporate sponsors could be the only other option.
Clark Hatch, president of Diamond Head Bark Park, agrees. After two years of raising $20,000, money was still needed to cover costs for annual maintenance and public liability insurance nine years ago. Today, 25 sponsors, three of them corporate, help with upkeep that costs up to $13,000 a year.
The first dog parks on the island, at Moanalua Community Park and Mililani Mauka District Park, were funded by the city.
According to Chang, the locations were at existing park areas where water already was available. There is also a privately run dog park at the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Ala Wai dog park supporters say dogs could play in a grassy area, uncommon in the area congested with condominium buildings.
But Ala Wai Elementary School officials are worried about the safety of 480 preschool to fifth-grade students at the school, next to the community park.
"Decisions involving children should always be made in their best interests," Principal Charlotte Unni said. "The dog park is definitely not."
Unni is worried about students sticking their hands in the
park's fence. She says students are also allergic to animal dander.
The school has a history of problems with dogs, Unni said. Owners walking their dogs without leashes or not picking up dog waste are often reported to the police by the school.
"The money the school will need to hire more supervising staff could be used towards educational programs," Unni said.
According to Tabor, the Ala Wai association will have a chain-link fence 27 feet from the school, and after-school park hours will be established.