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Waikoloa dog park project stalls

Updated: 
April 18, 2017 - 1:15am

WAIKOLOA VILLAGE — While plans to build the long-awaited dog park in Waikoloa Village were originally scheduled to begin this spring, the Bark Park project is now at a standstill.

Strongly supported by the community, the plan hit a snag in February when Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation raised a red flag.

“I made several phone calls to find out the status of the dog park build and Brittany Kaleohano replied that Kamakoa Nui Park has not been designated as a dog park in the Hawaii County code,” said Debbie Place, who has spearheaded the project since her friend and Bark Park’s founder, David Houser, died in late December.

Parks and Recreation realized the fact more than six months after Houser and former District 9 Councilmember Margaret Wille met their staff at Kamakoa Nui Park in July to solidify the size and scope of the dog park there. Parks and Recreation approved construction in June and the project was on their list to install, according to Wille.

She secured more than $6,000 in contingency funds last year from the county to purchase materials to construct the dog park, and Parks and Recreation agreed to provide the labor.

More than 20 hopeful North Hawaii residents marched in Waikoloa Village’s holiday parade last December holding a Bark Park banner in anticipation of the town’s long-awaited addition.

The contingency funds are still available but the challenge will be agreeing on a new location or other options. District 9 Councilman Tim Richards said he has been in touch with Parks and Recreation since assuming office.

“Any contingency funds that had been released are secure and in those accounts, such as the one for Parks and Recreation,” he said. “The budget and county finance are top priority right now. So much is up in the air. Once the budget has been finalized on May 5, we can move forward on any of the projects.”

One option would involve the county code.

“This is a good time to make a change in the county code,” said Wille. “A council member can submit a proposed change in the ordinance so dog parks are not excluded from county parks. Many residents in Waimea have asked that a dog park be included in the expansion of Waimea District Park in the next phase, so this could serve both purposes.”

Place agreed.

“This is an avenue we want to pursue,” she said. “We want to get the law re-written. It could set the precedence for other areas.”

North Hawaii residents have wanted a dog park for decades, as a safe place for their pets to run freely. With the recent setback, they may have to wait a bit longer.

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