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Manhattan Beach greenthumbs want to turn dog run into garden

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Dog lovers are bearing their teeth at Manhattan Beach residents who want to turn their beloved Oriental Boulevard dog run into a community garden — vowing that they will fight to keep the bark park right where it is.

Members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group want the Parks Department to move the dog run near Kensington Street to a less prominent spot in Manhattan Beach Park and put a flower and vegetable garden in its place.

But Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Brighton Beach) admitted that the city won’t have the funding to create a new pooch play space after building the community garden — leaving dog owners complaining that their best friends will have a place to go.

“This is the one space that makes it possible to have a dog,” said Manhattan Beach resident Ilana Bram. “There is no way you could have one without it.”

Dog owners are required to pick up after their pets at the dog run — which is roughly the size of a baseball infield — but the rules aren’t enforced, according to longtime critics who want to turn the space into a green zone.

“The current dog run is unsupervised and poorly maintained,” said Manhattan Beach Community Group president Ira Zalcman. “A garden would be something beautiful and teach children how to grow flowers and vegetables.”

Zalcman said the dog run shouldn’t be eliminated, just moved to an empty field near Kingsborough Community College. The space will be big enough to have separate play spaces for both large and small canines, he said.

Nelson has requested funding to install the community garden, but said there won’t be enough money in the budget to build the new dog run at the same time.

“The community garden will probably happen but I don’t have much faith in the dog run,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the garden alone would cost roughly $300,000 because the site needs a water line and other upgrades.

Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said the project is currently under review, but declined to confirm the price tag.

“We are far from making any decisions at this point,” Lalor said.

Several sources said the city is waiting see if the Manhattan Beach Community Group’s rival offshoot, the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, signs off on the plan. The dueling groups have argued about everything from neighborhood security to how to stop speeding on Oriental Boulevard.

But it doesn’t look like the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association will back the community garden project anytime soon.

“We weren’t consulted on this,” said Association spokesman Edmond Dweck, who explained that the garden overhaul only makes sense if the city installs a new dog run at the same time. “You don’t want to deny people in the community the opportunity to have a dog run.”

The Manhattan Beach Community Group initially proposed the dog run move in 2007, but the proposal fell apart after dog owners complained that the site was less convenient and the Parks Department declined to fund the project.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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