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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dog park on track in Makiki

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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For a list of dog-friendly parks, go to www.hawaiianhumane.org and see the link "Animal-Related Information."

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O'ahu could have another off-leash dog park if a community group is successful in securing a location at Makiki District Park.

Advocates for a Makiki dog park have been working on the project for about a year, trying to identify a suitable location, deciding on a design and raising money to build and maintain the site, said state Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-25th (Tantalus, Makiki, McCully).

"Between the fact that there's not anything in the district and the closest park is Diamond Head, there's certainly a need for pet owners," said Au Belatti, who has helped the group navigate through the process.

Last week the dog park advocates received much-needed support from the local neighborhood board, which advises the city about community issues.

The Makiki/Punchbowl /Lower Tantalus Neighborhood Board recommended that the city allow the off-leash park to be placed in a back corner of the district park, said John Steelquist, board chairman.

The dog park committee members had explored six locations before choosing the spot in the district park between the tennis courts and the freeway, Steelquist said. The site met requirements including size and having water, Steelquist said. Its location is away from homes, with the nearest being across the street from the park, he said.

Steelquist said the group has done its homework: talking to other dog park developers, scoping out all the possibilities and discussing the idea with the city.

"They'll eventually go to permitting ," he said. "There are more steps involved but this (the board vote) was a pretty big step for them."

The Hawaiian Humane Society supports the effort, said Vanessa Golding-Fox, community advocate liaison for the humane society.

"We've got 43 percent dog ownership on O'ahu and we have only five off-leash parks," Golding-Fox said. "So right now what we have is not supporting the community that we have."

The city also has more than two dozen parks where people can take dogs that are leashed.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation would have to approve the site, said Lester Chang, parks director. The department also would want members of the community to agree to the site and partner with the city to help fund the construction and volunteer to operate and maintain it, Chang said in an e-mail.

"Typically, dog parks are not located within existing city park facilties unless there is excess land and a separate entrance," Chang said. "This is so that there is no conflict with other intended park uses such as soccer and baseball."