If things go according to plan, visitors to the Island’s southern dog run will soon enjoy a new view – and some much needed shade. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and real estate developer Hudson Related have agreed to temporarily relocate to Blackwell Park to make way for the impending construction of two new residential towers.
The south dog run was originally scheduled to remain in its current location when construction begins on Riverwalk building eight, which is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2018. The run would then have been relocated in 2019 when Hudson Related expects to break ground for tower nine.
But on November 15, David Kramer, president of The Hudson Companies, announced that the run would need to move sooner. Their contractor, Monadnock Construction, determined that the run was too close to tower eight’s construction site, and would require overhead protection.
According to engineering consultant Mike Russo, RIOC has selected a vacant plot of land inside Blackwell Park for the dog run’s new location. The triangular parcel sits due north of 480 Main Street, which means it will provide plenty of year-round shade for dogs. This feature is sure to please canine owners, as the current, sun-drenched location offers dogs no such protection.
The temporary dog run is planned for the area east of Blackwell playground.
The exact timing of the run’s relocation has not been determined. RIOC’s general counsel, Jacqueline Flug, says the move will not come before March 2018. That’s when RIOC and Hudson Related anticipate closing on Riverwalk buildings eight and nine. Said Flug, “Any and all plans to move the dog run are on hold until the lease for the buildings has been signed.”
Hudson Related will pick up the costs for relocating the run as part of the company’s construction obligations. Kramer couldn’t confirm whether the new run’s design would include features Island dog owners have been requesting, including side-entry double gates and a cold-water line for the summer months, explaining that the project’s budget had not been finalized.
RIOC’s parks and recreation director, Mary Cunneen, has confirmed that the relocated run will continue to have separate areas and entrances for both small and large dogs. She also stated it will include signage with a list of dog park rules, developed with community input.
The dog run is expected to stay at its new location for three years, while Hudson Related erects towers eight and nine and develops the Commons East public space between them. At that point, as already reported by The WIRE, the company says it will begin building a much larger, state-of-the-art dog park. Once the new dog park is completed in 2021, the Blackwell dog run will be removed.
With the Island’s dog owners currently divided over the type of surface the redesigned South Town run should have when completed – polished stones, concrete, or natural earth – some have suggested using the temporary dog park as a testing ground for the use of polished stone. Since the north run has a natural earth base and the popular Hunter’s Point South Park dog run in Long Island City uses concrete, using stones in the temporary south run would let owners evaluate all three methods.
Anyone wishing to express ideas or concerns about the proposed Blackwell Park dog run can sign up to speak during the public session of RIOC’s next Board of Directors meeting on December 19 at 5:30 p.m.