June 12, 2019 By Christian Murray
Residents now have access to the dog run at Doughboy Park.
The Parks Department has installed a temporary pathway that goes from the plaza up the rocky hill to the dog run. The temporary pathway will be replaced in the fall when permanent steps go in.
The run, which was constructed by the School Construction Authority, was completed many months ago but residents didn’t have access to it since the Parks Dept. had yet to put in a pathway for access.
The dog run has been subject to fierce criticism over the past year, with the biggest complaints dealing with its diminutive size and the lack of water access.
“This is built for hamsters,” Rick Duro, leader of the Sunnyside United Dog Society, said last year. Only a handful of dogs would be able to use it at any given time, he said.
Rob Henderson, a local dog owner, was at the run on Tuesday with his pooch Ashley.
“Just looking at it, it doesn’t look bad- but there are a lot of things that are missing,” he said. He said that there is no water hookup—needed to clean the run—and there aren’t any double gates to protect dogs from bolting out. Other issues dealt with items such as a lack of garbage containers.
But most of the criticism has dealt with size. The run is built on the footprint of an old run that was at that very location that was hardly used as a result of its size. Critics argue that there was a lot of unused space next to the run that should have been incorporated as part of the design.
“This area should have been part of the run,” Henderson said, pointing to space alongside it. “I don’t understand it. No one uses that space. Why wasn’t it used?”
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that he is looking to get additional funding in order for the run to be enlarged but insisted that it should be open in the meantime.
“We need it to be open,” Van Bramer said. “We all want it to be bigger and we will work toward that but for now let’s open it.”
Van Bramer is insisting that the Parks Dept. come out as soon as possible and rectify some of the other deficiencies. For instance, the double gates need to be installed.
“If there is an element where it is unsafe for dogs it needs to be fixed now,” Van Bramer said.
The Parks Dept. plans to provide the run with water access at the same time that it builds the steps. The work will be incorporated as part of a one-year project that includes a $1.5 million upgrade to Doughboy Plaza.
The Parks Dept. said that the run will be closed during the year-long construction period, since the run will be inaccessible.
The planned one-year closure of the dog run is just a continuation of the stop-start nature of the project since its inception.
Funds were allocated for the overhaul of the run in 2013 but construction was delayed since the site was used by the SCA as a staging area to build a new school building and playground at P.S. 11, located next to the park.
The SCA cut a deal with the Parks Dept. to build the dog run since it was using the space. Parks was tasked with building a staircase up the hill to get to it.
The SCA’s plans for the dog run were never presented to the community board, elected officials or local stakeholders.
Van Bramer said that he wants the dog run to be made right.
“I want a dog run that is successful and that the dog owners of Woodside can enjoy,” Van Bramer said recently. “There is a lot of ground not being used and we have an opportunity to expand it.”