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Manhattan Beach residents slam bark park move

Dog run blues: Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman wants to turn a bare-bones dog run on Oriental Boulevard into a community garden.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The city should see to the needs of its two-legged taxpayers before its four-legged friends, say Manhattan Beach residents who are slamming a $500,000 plan to move a public dog run that many claim isn’t fit for the mangiest of mutts while human play spaces are not being maintained.

The city is ready to move the current Manhattan Beach Park dog run toward the park’s tennis courts and replace the existing bark park with a public garden, but some attending last week’s Community Board 15 meeting said the city has already shown that it can’t properly take care of the neighborhood’s other green spaces.

“We have a garden dedicated to a dear friend of ours, Dana Borell, and what do we have now? Weeds growing,” said Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association Vice President Al Smaldone. “It’s a disgrace and an embarrassment to us as a community.”

Other’s said the money Councilman Michael Nelson (D–Midwood) allocated for the dog run move could be used to replace Manhattan Beach Park’s basketball courts, which many claim have been poorly maintained.

“To spend that kind of money when the basketball courts are hurting is ridiculous,” said neighborhood activist Ed Eisenberg, a point that Smaldone applauded.

“One-third of our children in the country are obese, but we can’t get a basketball court so the kids can run around — never mind the dogs,” said Smaldone.

Yet neighborhood dog lovers say that Manhattan Beach needs a new bark park.

“I have a beautiful dog and I would never take my dog to that dog run,” said Bunny Fleischer, Vice President of the Manhattan Beach Community Group.

Councilman Nelson’s chief of operations, Chaim Deutsch, said the old dog run would not be converted into a garden until the new one had finished, ensuring that dog owners always have a place to bring their best friends.

“The bottom line is, no dog will be left behind,” said Deutsch.

Nelson is waiting for the community board’s approval before he gives the money to the Parks Department, which would be responsible for finding a contractor.

Board members said they would table the vote until either the Parks Department or Councilman Nelson’s office provides the panel with a written proposal.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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