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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