Throw him a bone! City Councilman Lincoln Restler has a plan to improve and expand dog runs across the city — bringing several new runs to North Brooklyn and introducing a new package of bills that would make the Parks Department responsible for upkeep of the city’s dog runs.
The plan, exclusively shared with The Daily News, includes two new bills to be proposed next week — one to formally transfer responsibility for maintaining dog runs from informal community groups to the Parks department and one to require the department to identify at least five potential spaces for dog runs in every community board — as well as a plan to overhaul dog runs in District 33.
Spots for new dog runs in the district have been identified in Abolitionist Place Park in downtown Brooklyn, in northern Greenpoint and South Williamsburg. A rezoning proposal, and $1 million in funding, would allow for a new dog run at McCarren Park.
“It doesn’t make any sense that there are portions of our parks that the Parks Department doesn’t maintain, but that is the tragic reality of our dog runs,” Restler said. “Community groups have formed, Friends Of groups have stepped up and stepped in to do their best to try to maintain decent conditions for our dogs, to be able to enjoy themselves and run around. But on the whole … the conditions are totally inadequate.”
The issue came sharply into focus recently when The News reported on a controversy in Bushwick. After dog ownership boomed during the pandemic, the city’s already-scarce green space resources have been stretched thin. In Bushwick, arguments over an unofficial dog run degraded into a pets vs. kids turf war that resulted in the Parks Department locking off the space entirely.
“We all know the myriad benefits from dog ownership: Health benefits, happiness quotient,” he said. “It is real. And yet we make it so hard for dog owners in New York City, in their teeny apartments and with the lack of green space. The least we could do is ensure there’s a decent dog run in every neighborhood and have the Parks Department maintain it.”
Danielle Dorchester said she became more involved in keeping the McCarren Dog Run Alliance in good shape after an outbreak leptospirosis, a disease caused by a bacteria in water and warm wet soil, that was inked to the McCarren Park dog run.
“It’s just kind of absurd, the amount of hard labor that’s required,” Dorchester said. “It’s a lot of shoveling and wheelbarrowing, and ideally, the city could take care of most of that … I do think that just in general they should be in charge of maintaining it.”
District 33 has committed $30,000 in City Council funds to local groups to bankroll improvements and maintenance at dog runs in the current fiscal year.
Restler’s district is home to three times as many dogs as the citywide average. He said hopes the legislation, developed after a survey of about 300 District 33 dog owners, will lead to improvements in the city’s existing dog runs and create more across not just in North Brooklyn but across the five boroughs.
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