Resident’s mission to build off-leash dog park in Chinatown

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A woman who lives in Nuuanu is on a mission — to turn part of Aala Park in Downtown Honolulu into a dog park, which she tells us will also help revitalize the neighborhood.

She’s received thousands of dollars through a grant and has the support of the city, but it’s still not that easy.

Catherine Honda and her dog Pono love to play in the open air, but they saw a need.

“There are a lot of pet friendly buildings right along Nuuanu and in the Downtown area and I think it’s an amenity a lot of people need and use,” Honda said.

There are several on-leash dog parks in the area such as Mother Waldron and Kamamalu Neighborhood Park. But nothing that’s off-leash, so Honda set her eyes on Aala Park.

“It’s really underutilized so I think it’s a great opportunity to be a community usage park,” Honda said.

The proposed plan would look like the off-leash area at Ala Wai Dog Park. There will be a fence enclosure and two sections, one for large dogs and the other for small dogs.

“We’re hoping the park will be at least 10-thousand square feet so that would be the area around the King Street side of the park,” Honda said.

We wanted to know what others thought about the idea and found that there are mixed feelings.

“When you say Aala Park you think ‘homeless’ right,” said Tony who frequents the park. “I wouldn’t want my dogs to step on things or eat things that I know are probably there on the ground.”

“If we could have one right here it would be nice to be able to have an off-leash park they can run around and play and get a little exercise because there is not much here,” Allen, dog owner, said.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation does support the project, but nothing has been finalized.

Honda is still in the beginning stages of her vision. She still needs to sort out the design, construction, and funding.

A $25-thousand award from “PetSafe Bark for Your Park” program has given Honda that extra boost.

“They must already have the land because the money cannot be used to purchase land,” Justine Young of PetSafe Brand said. “It can be used to put up fencing or build a parking lot…toys agility equipment anything you need to get your basic dog park set up.”

“I wasn’t sure how good our chances were when we applied, but I just figured it was worth a shot so we are so happy to have this opportunity,” Honda said.

Honda has three years to finalize the plans or she will lose the grant money from PetSafe. We’ll let you know what changes will be made at Aala Park.

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