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Tongues are Wagging over Lou Lodati Construction

Photo: QueensPost

Sept. 1, 2012 By Christian Murray

On Monday, a large New York City Parks Department sign went up on the outer fence of Torsney/Lou Lodati Park that announced the planned construction to overhaul the park had begun.

The news that construction had actually started was viewed as significant victory for Sunnyside’s leading dog group that have longed for a dog run for more than a decade. The $1.4 million park revamp will include a dog run and the resurfacing of the asphalt field.

The dog-run advocates, who formed a group called the Sunnyside United Dog Society (SUDS) in 2001, have had many setbacks in pursuit of their dream over the years. Their initial plans were voted down by the community board, and then when the plans were finally approved and the funds allocated in 2007—-the city budget cuts railroaded them.

“We never quit. We knew it would be tough,” said Rick Duro, the leader of SUDS who kept pressing ahead for the dog run. He said the group received a lot of help from Joe Conley, the chairman of Community Board 2, and other board members.

SUDS’ plans gained major traction again after they got the support of then council-candidate Jimmy Van Bramer. “When he was running for election he came out on a freezing night and we talked to him about our plans—and how the park needed work…to fix all the cracks.”

Shortly after being elected, Van Bramer announced his plans to put in a dog run and overhaul the entire park.

The project will also involve resurfacing the existing surface and putting down lines for a softball diamond, ecuavoli courts (similar to volleyball) and half basketball courts. There will be increased green space and new plantings. It should be completed by summer 2013.

Van Bramer said in a statement that residents have asked for all of these amenities for years and the renovations will “give generations of Sunnyside residents a neighborhood park to be proud of.”

For more information about SUDS, please see Rick Duro’s comments in the “comments section”

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Rick I agree, that is one huge problem I have, they pee across from my yard, all day! My neighbors and I BBQ and we have kids, and they just stand there peeing.


So, the redesign means the park will be great for the small % of people who own dogs, the small % of people who play equavoli, and the small % of people who play softball. I guess that’s an improvement, at least for the dog owners.

But what about everyone else?

I wish they had taken this opportunity to turn part of the area into a real PARK. I love Sunnyside but it would be so nice to sit on some grass, under shady trees. Not everyone has homes with yards or access to Sunnyside Gardens!

Rick Duro

I think its great that the volleyball players are in the park, socializing, getting exercise, maybe even networking. It’s a great thing.

BUT….they need to stop urinating all day long in the park, defacating in the park, selling booze all day long and leaving garbage all over the place. While it is not as bad as it was in 2005, it’s still gross. There are LAKES of urine behind the trees after they are done many nights…and the bathroom is open ALL DAY, closing later in the day. We’ve asked them to use it, they don’t. We recommended they get a bucket, pee into that and pour it into the sewer @ the end of the day, they just kept peeing into an overflowing bucket and would leave it there.

I believe that the redesign will no longer allow people to hide behind the trees to pee. Hallelujah.



I really take offense at your comments 108cops. I was born in Ecuador and grew up in NYC and love Volleyball. So what these people are over weight, they are not competing in the contest, they are just having fun. And it does take talent to play ecuavolley.

108 cops

Hey man thats not volleyball!! They call it equavolly or something. Apparently if you have no volleball skills you can join this game where you can sort of catch it and throw it over the net. Real challenging. My guess is none of these peolple will make 2016 Rio.

Please hurry and finish, these so called equavolly players have now taken up residence at Thompson Hill, now I can look out my window and watch in disgust at the overweight gang of people and their lack of volleyball skills.


I was hoping to get some high end floor that will be easy on their legs… I’m happy to hear that.
And you never seen my hippo run after a ball….

Rick Duro

As for the surfacing of the dog run, we asked not to have pebbles, sand, wood chips because they STINK, are expensive to replace and spread disease. Dirt/grass just doesn’t work either, makes a huge mess. Our surface wont be apshalt, it will have give to it and be easy to clean. Plus it files down your dogs nails. SUDS dogs have been running on the asphalt of that park for a decade and no dogs I know have issues from it.


Rick Duro

I disagree. Volleyball EASILY takes up the most space and time. They are in the park from early in the morning thru dark, routinely with a double net hanging off of the big light pole and @ least 4 other ones, several dozen players and their friends/families are in there most of the day. Soccer is played earlier in the day, maybe a game or two/a couple of hours of play and that’s it.

As for the lack of work being done and closing on Labor Day, different crews handle different jobs. Phase 2 (whatever that may be) can’t start until the park/trees are secured, which was Phase 1. The company that won the bid to do X does it when they have an opening in the sked. It’s how it works. Just the bidding process alone took 9 months.

Soccer will have their space, they won’t be left out.


Oppressed Masses

I have lived across the street from Lodati Park for the past four years. Soccer is most definitely the predominant use of the park. I walked off the area depicted for the dog park (on the outside) and with the basketball courts moved over and the volley ball courts moved next to 43rd Street, there will be a substantially reduced space for soccer. Also, if locking down the park on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, when no work activity occurred on the weekend, is an indication of the “planning” for the construction of the park, this undoubtedly will be a big mess.


I’m really happy for the run!!!! Thank you to all at SUDS!!

But asphalt? That will be really bad for dogs. My poor guy messed up his legs because he was running on a hard floor.


Forgot to add, we live across from the park, so now that it is closed they have relocated to drinking on other people’s property…


Hopefully the drunk XXXXX will leave the neighborhood. They were on my neighbors stoop the last 2 nights drinking and sleeping!! And the great 108 did nothing. I hope Van Bramer is listening because it is really disheartning that nothing gets done about it. I have a small baby and if they step foot on my property I will unleash my dog on them


@Rick Duro: you should have called the police.
@Anonymous: I don’t ever let my dog go over to anyone. But please tell everyone else to stop trying to pet my dog. Oh yea and stop barking at him, don’t pick him up because you used to work in a animal shelter, don’t pretend to hit him with your scooter/bike, believe me when I say “he isn’t friendly” and don’t get mad when he bites you.
Thanks for the rant. It’s really for the parents and kids of 48th street. (North Side).

P & B

This park renovation is good for the entire community. What started off as a dog run request turned into an entire lower level renovation. That is amazing for everyone. I don’t think the parks department would have outright decided to renovate this park if it wasn’t for the outcry from SUDS. Many people have devoted long hours to see this through. Rick has been relentless in his efforts and I applaud him. Both of my dogs Barnum and Provo have been waiting years to see this run be built. Many of us in the SUDS community have just one word to say….. Finally!!

Jim Bob

I would like thank Mr Duro, SUDS, councilman, everyone.

This dog run is good for the neighborhood. It is a sign that we live in a good area and that people like you really care. Thank you.

Rick Duro

I use the park/walk by it several times every day and soccer definitely does not dominate its use. It used to be that way, but not anymore. Volleyball is the sport that uses the park the most for the past several years. Also, soccer is not played where the basketball hoops will be, that has been used by volleyball (with a double net) players exclusively.

Soccer will have plenty of room to play. The redoing of the softball diamond will be for the use of the Little Girls Softball League that uses it from March-June, for which they have a permit.

When there are not girls softball games (we’re talking a few hours a day here, and not even everyday), soccer can play along the fence that runs along 43rd St. Also, the middle of the park from where the end of the basketball hoops will be to the fence on Skillman.

Just today, a group of soccer players, with bolt cutters, vandalized the fencing to gain entry to it. I learned about it this afternoon. I went down and politely explained to them that the more they do that, the longer it will take to complete the park.


Oppressed Masses

The plans for the renovation shown above and the comments ignore the reality that the greatest use of Lodati Park is not being provided for. Is the intention to end the soccer games that dominate park use? From my observations the past four years, playing softball there is an occasional, spring time, part of the day, weekend activity. Will the specialized surfaces for the softball and volleyball areas tolerate the heavy soccer play that takes place almost all year round, most of the day on weekends, and several weekday afternoons/evenings? Will the youngsters who typically play basketball be able to use the courts now that they are pushed closer to where soccer is usually played? Will the emerging cricket activity be allowed to continue? Someone in charge needs to speak definitively on the continuation of soccer play in Lodati after the renovation.


Hopefully dog owners in sunnyside will let there dogs poop there instead of the middle of the street!! It’s disgusting!! I cant walk half a block without having to jump over dog urine and crap .. And maybe dog
Owners will be a little friendlier I mean I
Don’t shake hands with strangers so why would I be okay with your unknown dog licking my leg.. I love animals don’t het me wrong but please have some respect for humans to!!

Preschool Teacher

I babysit 2 young girls near Madison Sq. Park in Manhattan (around 23rd St.) and the girls bring their dog to the dog park within the park. I had never been to one before. It’s really a wonderful thing to see the dogs and the kids and all the dog owner’s socializing and helping each other with the dogs. Dogs bring such happiness to people. This will add so much to the community!! Can’t wait!

Vicki, Mark, Willie and Charlie

Hurray!!!!! We lived in Sunnyside for 4 years and our dog Charlie grew up there. We spent many mornings and evenings in the concrete playground talking with other dog owners and hoping this dream would come true. And at last it has! Thank you to all who never gave up trying to make this happen. What a wonderful improvement for everyone in the neighborhood.

Kathy Nelson

I’m not a dog owner, but I’m sure glad we’re FINALLY getting a dog run.
Many NYC communities already have one.

Dog runs are magnets for the community — both dog owners and non — a place where people –young and old — can socialize and delight in seeing animals at play.

Thanks, SUDS. And Jimmy VanBraemer for working hard at getting Sunnyside just a little bit more of the public green space it deserves.


I hope this is the last dog project in sunnyside, and i hope the park wont smell like shit. Cant wait for the green space and basketball courts!


So glad we and our furry family will finally have their so deserved place “special place” only and only for them no distractions no garbage no balls no worries, Sunnyside will shine even more!

Rick Duro

SUDS goal all along was to improve the WHOLE park, not to just get a dog run built. We’ve been taking care of the park each night, cleaning up the mess left behind every weekend, for a decade plus. We’ve organized ‘pick up the poop’ days to educate the minority of folks that DON’T pick up, and trust me, it’s a small # of people. We’ve raised thousands of $ for sick neighborhood dogs, rescued/fostered/adopted dogs, marched in the last 10 Sunnyside St Pats Day Parades and helped to make the park a safer place for all. This summer alone we were able to reunite 5 dogs with their owners in our area and get a few strays adopted.

We have always been about improving all of Sunnyside in any way we can. When Councilman Van Bramer and Queens Boro President Helen Marshall came through with enough funding to do just that we were ecstatic. One thing, dog runs are as much about PEOPLE as they are about dogs. Dog runs are excellent additions to any neighborhood. With this run we will now be able to have training seminars, educational workshops, adopt-a-thons, fundraisers, etc.

For those curious, SUDS history goes a bit like this:

The original group began to meet in the upper part of the park in the months after 9/11, looking for a sense of community. As the group got larger we began to think about what we could do to get a much needed dog run w/i the park. The Parks Dept is always underfunded, thanks Mike Bloomberg, so we took it upon ourselves to clean up the park, especially on Sunday nights after the disaster that used to be left by the folks that used the park all weekend.

We first tried to get approval in 2004, but were turned down by the community board due to the spot we chose and the poor conditions of the dog run (if you can even call that 10 ft X 15 ft box a dog run) in Doughboy Park. We came back with a second try, and we’re again turned down due to the spot we thought would be best (the area around the trees in the back of the park). Cmmty Bd #2 Pres Joe Conley and Pat O’Brien came to us and suggested moving the basketball hoops and putting the dog run along the wall where the hoops were. We thought the idea was fantastic and now had to try to get the approval of the Parks Dept, which we did in 2006. Next step was securing discretionary funding from the Councilman @ the time, we got it and then lost it due to the economic collapse of ’08.
This was a difficult blow for SUDS, and while some did give up hope, the rest of us refused and we pressed on and all of our hard work and diligence has paid off not only for SUDS, but the whole community as well.

Fast forward to late 2009, along came Councilman Van Bramer and Queens Boro Pres Helen Marshall. They were able to secure the $1.4mm for the project in 2011 and after a press conference that June the ball got rolling. City projects take a long time to come to fruition (bidding process takes up to 9 months, then there is scheduling of the work), but this will all be so worth it come Summer 2013. The park will be greatly improved for everyone, with new green space, a new surface, the dog run and SUDS goal of improving our wonderful neighborhood will be realized.

Many thanks go to the Queens Parks Dept, especially Commissioner Lewandowski, Joanne Amagrande and Helen Ho.

Lastly, I want to thank all the ORIGINAL SUDS people, you know who you are! It was them that started this group 11 years ago. My main wish is that the park gets completed so that the last remaining original SUDS dogs
(Barnum, Nobbie, Toby, Emma, Bubba, Olive, Joshua, I may be forgetting 1 or 2) walk through the doors of the dog run FIRST.


Rick Duro
SUDS, Pres.


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