Members of Community Board 5’s Parks Committee and the Juniper Valley Park Dogs Association (JVPDA) met at Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s office on Saturday for an inspection of three potential dog run sites, but things got ugly when local residents learned of the plans.
At the first site, an offsite area of Juniper Valley Park with grass and benches at 80th Street and Juniper Boulevard, a shouting match and a tirade of personal attacks ensued, with many residents who were out walking their dogs actually arguing against the dog run.
“That’s only for lazy people who want to sit on a bench while their dogs run,” said a man named Bill, who declined to give his last name, who happened to be walking his dog. “There’s no reason for it here. Why don’t you walk your dog, period.”
Bill lives across the street and believes placing a dog run in the area will attract outsiders and a lot of noise. Other passersby agreed, but when CB5 Parks Committee Co-Chair Kathy Masi asked them to provide contact information to receive information about upcoming meetings, they refused.
“This is not going to be as easily resolved as I’d hoped,” said Masi, making mention of the fact that a dog run comes with a hefty price tag of $750,000. Ultimately, however, it’s not CB5’s decision, but the NYC Parks Department, she said.
“It’s probably not going to be an easy process, but it has been moving forward and it’ll keep going forward,” said Lydon Sleeper, chief of staff for Councilwoman Crowley.
The second site was at Juniper Boulevard North and 75th Street, between the hockey rink and the running track. Construction of a dog run would require the relocation of several newly planted trees, but JVPDA members protested that the site is prone to frequent flooding.
The final site at Juniper Boulevard North and Lutheran Avenue was on the other side of the running track, adjacent to it. Selection of the site might require the elimination of a cement walking path.
Kate Beirnes, a JVPDA member, observed that the first site seemed to be the best one because it is the widest and does not have a high concentration of athletic activities going on nearby.
“We hope this site inspection is a genuine effort on the part of CB5 to make this dog park a reality,” said Beirnes.
Despite tensions between opponents and proponents of the dog run, Masi felt the meeting was extremely insightful.
“I think people are not as patient as we hope they’re going to be, but we need to make sure we’re approaching this with the best interests of the community in mind,” said Masi.