KAHULUI - Although the fences have been erected and it looks ready to go, it will be a few more months before dog owners and their pets will be able to use the county's first dog park.
Deputy Parks Director Pat Matsui said recently that the county expects the park at Keopuolani Park in Kahului to be open in January.
Currently, some herbicide has been sprayed on the lawn at the dog park, and there will be some seeding of grass, Matsui said. Because the area had been a sand volleyball court, the county wants to make sure the grass is in top shape before the dog park opens, he added.
Wailuku resident Desiree Fernandez and her dog Princess Layla walk past the not-yet-open Keopuolani Park dog park recently. “She’s a Shar-Pei mix, and she can’t wait for the doggie park to open,” Fernandez said. “She likes to tell all the dogs ‘Hi.’ ” County officials said the grass needs a few more months to grow properly before the dog park can open, possibly in January.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Sue Kiang, community resource coordinator with the Parks Department, said other work that needs to be done includes the installation of drinking fountains for both humans and dogs, benches and signs.
The park's cost is $49,479, around $9,000 higher than expected during its design phase last year. The cost includes fencing, a concrete bullpen, accessible walkways, drinking fountain, signs, waste dispensers and bags.
When the park opens, it will be Maui's second official dog park. The other dog park is in Wailea, off Kilohana Drive and Kapili Street, and is run by the Wailea Community Association.
Kiang has said that the Keopuolani dog park would be a prototype and its success would impact further development of other dog parks islandwide.
The Keopuolani dog park will be 34,800 square feet. It includes a double-gated entry area. There, owners can walk into the gated area, take off their dog's leash, then let them into the gated park.
The double-gate acts as a safety area for owners to make sure their dogs get their leashes off and on safely. It is also a way to announce to the other dogs that another potential playmate is entering the territory, Kiang said.
The park will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dog owners must accept responsibility for their dogs while at the park.
Kiang is seeking volunteers to be educated about the park as well as educate the public when the park opens up.
Even though the dog park is not in his South Maui neighborhood, Kihei community activist Mike Moran has been to public meetings regarding the park and said he "strongly supports this park."
He added that the park in Wailea can get overcrowded at times and there is not enough room for bigger dogs.
With this new park, there are separate fenced-off areas for large and small dogs.
Moran is an organizer and moderator for the Maui County Animal Coalition and has three dogs. He said he was not speaking on behalf of the organization.
Although he lives in Kihei, Moran said he plans to bring his dogs to the new park at some point. He said he hopes this pilot project gets enough support to give traction to plans for future dog parks.
Kiang had said that the establishment of the county's dog park has taken a while because it was necessary to change the animal control ordinance to allow dogs off leash within an established dog park.
If anyone wants to volunteer or get involved with the park, they may contact Kiang at 270-7329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.