Local Parents Band Together to Protest New Dog Park Site

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation board voted unanimously at their last meeting to place a dog run in the northeast corner of Blackwell Park, squeezing it into an already congested area abutting the big kids playground, the basketball courts, and the pending bike path.

In November of 2017, David Kramer, president of The Hudson Companies, announced that the Southtown dog run would need to move make way for construction of two new residential towers, Southtown buildings 8 and 9. (Hudson Related will pick up the costs for relocating the run as part of the company’s construction obligations.)

The former Southtown dog run, now site of Southtown building 8

At first, RIOC selected a vacant plot of land inside Blackwell Park for the dog run’s new location. That triangular parcel sits due north of 480 Main Street, and is next to the sprinklers. After an outcry from local parents about what they deemed a half-baked plan to place the dog run on a slice of Blackwell Park that abuts the sprinklers and the small children’s playground, Hudson-Related and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) agreed to relocate the new dog run.

The first location RIOC and Hudson chose was in the green space between the sprinklers and the East River

This most recent plan was voted up without any bid from contractors, stating that a vote when they next convene in early December would be too late to complete the work on time for the closure of the current Southtown dog park for the construction of another building.

Once again the community is being blindsided by dog park construction plan that has not been vetted with Roosevelt Island Residents

Parents are concerned that squeezing a dog park plan in to an already congested area - it abuts the big kids playground, the basketball courts, and the pending bike path - is just too much. This group sees this as an effort to strong arm the community into a plan they don’t agree with or feel comfortable with. Some are concerned about the obvious safety issues posed by a dog park at the children’s playground. Active children and dogs don’t always mix.

As an example, my ten year old son had a terrifying experience last month at Riverwalk Commons when a dog got off his least and aggressively went after my son. While we were able to distract the dog before he could bite my son, my son was deeply traumatized by this experience. These are not events that we as a community should be inviting. Children have a right to play without fear.

Furthermore, the current plan essentially pens in the whole north end of the park, from the north basketball court to the children’s playground, cutting it off from the promenade, the trees, and the view of the water. It would create a drastic change to a space that is used by many members of the community.

We demand that RIOC suspend this plan and come up with something better. An interim dog park could easily replace the current park while plans are vetted and finalized in a way that takes the needs of the whole community to heart.

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