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Dog Days Coming to the Arts District

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, June 01, 2010, at 04:09PM
Arts District Dog Park Ed Fuentes

Community members work on the empty lot that will soon become an Arts District dog park in a photo from April 24.

Like pups digging for bones, dog owners took shovels to a 6,000 square foot triangle of Arts District land last month.

Their work should soon pay off in the form of a neighborhood dog park, the culmination of an effort led by LAPD Senior Lead Officer Jack Richter and Los Angeles River Artist and Business Association (LARABA) President John Saslow.

Located at 1004 E. 4th, the lot sits at the corner of Molino, just south and west of the 4th street bridge. The site belongs to the Honda family, owners of Honda Plaza in Little Tokyo, and has long sat undeveloped.

“We were always walking by lot this every Wednesday, and we wondered what they would do with it,” recalled Ritcher in late April, during one of the first days of cleanup. “We asked what they wanted to do with it. They said ‘Nothing. It’s a pain in the neck, the weeds always need to be cut down, the fence is a wreck.’”

Ritcher asked whether the family would be interested in letting the neighborhood maintain the space as a dog park. “We will pay the taxes, buy some insurance, and make this into a jewel,” he told them.

The pair got a feeling their pitch might have a chance when they saw a photo of the family dog prominently placed in the office.

Once the site was secured, the work and fundraising started.

Trash was removed, including buried debris. Fencing was installed and repaired, and areas were separated to keep big dogs and little dogs apart. A water supply must still be arranged, and some last logistics remain to be ironed out. The Honda family still owns the site, but LARABA will handle payments for taxes, insurance and maintenance.

“The response has been great,” says Saslow. A large donation was made last week for an art piece to complement the dog park.

There's little question the park will be popular. A Facebook page set up for the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Dog Park has more than 250 fans. Many postings include pet photos, perhaps to get a little head start on the process of neighborhood introductions.

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