Thursday, April 23, 2009

Group Makes Plea for JVP Dog Run

By Conor Greene

After months of asking Community Board 5 to support a dog run in Juniper Valley Park, a group of dog lovers formally pitched the idea to the advisory board’s Parks Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Despite the poor weather, a large group of area dog owners - including members of the Juniper Valley Dog Association - attended the meeting at the park’s Brennan Fieldhouse. While the Parks Committee was receptive to investigating the idea, major issues moving forward include where the dog run would be located within the park and how it would be funded.

Joe Pisano, president of the dog association, said his group is seeking a one-year test to see if a dog run would work in Juniper Valley Park. With the creation of the dog run, the current off-leash hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. would be eliminated. “We love this park – that’s why we want to be here. If you give us the opportunity, we will make it the best dog park in the city” he said, noting that volunteers are ready to help out. “We will clean it up and fundraise… We’re ready to do whatever we have to do.”

Pisano said his group’s preference is to have a permanent dog run built in the location between the baseball fields that is currently used during off-leash hours. “Everyone seems to feel like the spot we’re in is the best spot,” he said. “We would like to stay there if we could… We think it’s the right size, location and has great drainage.”

However, the Parks Committee and Juniper Park Civic Association are opposed to placing a permanent dog run in that area due to the damage caused to mature trees by dog urine. The Parks Committee instead suggested three alternate possibilities: behind the bleachers at the roller hockey rink, behind the fieldhouse near 71st Street and Juniper Boulevard South or between the end of the track and the nursery house near Lutheran Avenue and Juniper Boulevard North.

According to committee chairman Steve Fiedler, the JPCA “consistently and constantly” has received complaints about noise in the park. “Some locations, unfortunately, are just not set for [certain] things,” he said. “The ground has worn away since you’ve been there.” He added that he didn’t think the location was a good for off-leash hours because the noise has been disruptive to neighbors.

JPCA Vice President Lorraine Sciulli, who lives near the park, said that the dogs are disruptive to the neighborhood. “The park is completely surrounded by houses,” she said. “I don’t know why you think nobody is hearing your dogs barking.”

Pisano responded that the dog run would allow canine owners to use the park at all hours, meaning there would be fewer people at a time. Currently, dogs are only allowed off-leash between when the park opens at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. “Isn’t it loud when a baseball game is going on?” he asked.

Manny Caruana questioned why a section of the park would be set aside for animals. “You got to remember – the park was not built for animals, it was built for humans,” he said. “I never thought about taking a part of the park for my dog.”

Pisano said there are more than 100 dog runs and parks throughout the city. “It’s not like it’s never been done,” he said.

Fiedler noted that a formal process must be followed for the proposal to become reality. That would include a public hearing after a specific design is complete. “No location will be picked without these procedures,” he said. “This is the first step,” with the discussion expected to continue at future Parks Committee meetings this summer. “If a location can be established, fine. If it can’t, fine too,” he said.

Much of the discussion centered on damaged caused to the trees and grass in the current off-leash area, and a Parks Department employee said that the impact on that section of the park is caused by a combination of factors, including drainage from the ballfields. “The dogs definitely contributed to the loss of grass,” he said.

Paul Toomey, president of the dog group K-9 Korral in Forest Park stressed that it’s important to provide shade for the dogs. “Whatever the plan is, they should have trees there,” he said. Toomey also questioned whether it’s appropriate for Fiedler to run the meeting since he is also a JPCA member. “You obviously have a biased opinion about the dog run,” he said.

Fiedler responded, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have an open mind. I don’t think that’s a conflict at all.”

Dog owner Rich McGraw tried to keep the focus on how to best move forward on this request. He said there is likely one location out of the three or four suggested “that we could all live with… I don’t think any of us want to see the trees die… If we know some of the potential pitfalls, we can start looking at resolutions.”

Robert Holden, president of the JPCA, said his group would support a dog run in Juniper Valley Park provided it is done properly. Otherwise, “it will quickly become an unhealthy dust bowl,” he said, adding that “the JPCA won’t support just a fence.” He suggested that the group ask Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) for capital funding to help defray the costs. “We just want to see it done properly,” he said. We will work with you.”

In a statement, Crowley said she supports the idea of having a dog run in Juniper Valley Park. “I believe a dog run would be a healthy addition to the community. I look forward to working with community members on a proposal that best suits the interests of our neighborhood.”


Anonymous said...

Sounds like both sides are being reasonable. I hope they can work something out. Perhaps something can be constructed to provide shade but away from the trees that are being damaged.

Anonymous said...

Dog Fancy magazine named this year's top dog parks. Some of NYC's dog parks were named last year and the year before.

For those interested in how dog parks can be an integral (not hidden) park of urban parks, please check a few of this out.

Of course, not all are applicable to Juniper Park, but what is worth noting is the constructive, positive way these municipalities have embraced their dog owners.

Let's strive to build the best dog park in Juniper Park.

mark said...

The time has come for a dog park at Juniper. The park is big enough for it. Everybody has their own use for the park. Be it baseball, softball, football, rollerblading, doing nothing, bocce ball, handball, paddle ball, running, tennis, walking, basketball, shuffleboard, sitting, sunbathing, sleeping, hockey, soccer, riding swings, slides, climbing monkey bars, goofing off, laughing, smiling, thinking, forgetting, brooding, golf etc. Why can't dog's have their place? How ridiculous is it that Brooklyn, Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island are PACKED with dog runs and Queens has only a handful? Juniper Valley Park is a beautiful park that is big enough for everybody. To Ms. Sciulli I say, dogs bark. They make noise. But not as much noise and disruption as I hear around the park from foul mouthed kids, foul mouthed parents, SUV's with blaring music, motorcycles and all the rest of what makes up a day at the park. I should know, I used to be one of those foul mouthed kids in a little league uniform. To Mr. Caruana I say, this park was not built just for humans. It's built for squirrels, birds, mice, ants, bees and I'm sure at one time a long time ago, rabbits, possum and raccoons. Now it's for people who, I would hope are tolerant people. Tolerant enough to be fair to ALL people and ALL animals.

Taxpayer said...

The argument that parks are for people, not animals has no relevence here.

The dogs don't walk themselves to the park. Dog runs are an established and accepted park recreational activity not just in NYC (which has built over 50), but the hundreds of dog runs all around the United States. People use them to socialize and exercise their dogs, and to socialize with their neighbors in a park setting.

It's time for the reactionary forces in MV (and we all know who they are) to realize that we're almost in the 2nd decade of the 21st century, not stuck in 1953.

Remember, at the beginning of the 20th century it was considered crazy and unacceptable to build ball fields in public parks. Now we don't only have a lot of ball fields, but some of them are even locked just for the special people.

mark said...

Well said, Taxpayer!

Anonymous said...

The dog run in Forest Park is quite small and on the extreme southern end of the place. That park is more than 500 acres. I can't imagine taking an acre of land at a much smaller park and converting it into a dog run when clearly, less people will use it. I also don't see the same arguments presented for why that run is inadequate (elderly can't walk, not in a central location, etc.).

Anonymous said...

"this park was not built just for humans. It's built for squirrels, birds, mice, ants, bees and I'm sure at one time a long time ago, rabbits, possum and raccoons."

All of the animals listed above are wildlife. Dogs are not wildlife. They are domestic pets. They belong on leashes so they don't harm the wildlife.

mark said...

To Anonymous, who says of the Forest Park dog run, “I also don't see the same arguments presented for why that run is inadequate (elderly can't walk, not in a central location, etc.)”. Obviously you have never seen the run. It is located on a hill, up a long steep set of steps. When it rains, the run is a sloppy mess. The run itself is a huge hill, dangerous for dogs and people. Furthermore it is located on a dangerous street, Park Lane South. You can’t, oddly enough, PARK on Park Lane, plus when you do find a spot on a side street, you are lucky if you don’t get killed crossing the street.

You also go on to say (I assume you posted both anonymous posts, but even if you didn’t, I don’t care. If you can’t put your name to your opinion, you deserve to be lumped together.), ”Dogs are not wildlife. They are domestic pets. They belong on leashes so they don't harm the wildlife.” To this I say, dogs on leashes poop in more places, pee on more trees and walk on more grass when they don’t have a dog park. But I guess you are one of those people who think grass is for looking at, not for walking on.

Anonymous said...

To previous two posters:

1. Forest Park dog park was a make-shift creation. It is the former horse corral. It is not ideal, has problems of its own, and needs improvements.

The dog owners at FP are working hard to rectify what they can.

More than one dog park is required for a park as large as FP. Though the current location is a "destination facility" (unlike Juniper), it barely serves the surrounding dog owning communities.

BUT.. now follow this carefully since you pretend to know things... FOREST PARK IS BOTH OFF-LEASH AND HAS A DOG PARK!

Parks recognized that K9 Korral cannot fulfill the needs there so the park is a dual off-leash and dog park recreation area.

So much for that poster.

Now to the next.

Yeah yeah, the same argument about dogs being domestic, belonging on leash, etc. was made over and over during the futile JPCA battle against off-leash.

JPCA lost in court
JPCA lost at the Health dept
JPCA lost at Parks
JPCA lost at City Hall
JPCA lost in the press
JPCA lost in public opinion polls

And today off-leash is legal in NYC and is spreading across the entire continent from Boston to California, from Texas to Canada.

So trying to revive a tired argument will not work.

Responsible dog owners respect and appreciate wildlife- fauna and flora. They avoid protected areas and cherish nature.

But if you believe that wildlife at Juniper (limited to birds, squirrels, and maybe an occasional raccoon) is at danger, all the more reason to support the construction of a properly sized dog park in a central location.

Let's see, there are many more dog owners than ball players, and since some pretend that the dogs will damage the trees where they play now (even though they never have), we could take one of the western ballfields- already fenced on two sides, all grass, no trees, and sprinkers would keep it clean- and we can make that a dog park.

How's that for a workable solution?

mark said...

Well said!

rego park said...

keep living your lives through your dogs and leave the rest of us alone

Anonymous said...

You keep harping that the trees "look" healthy in the current space therefore they must be! Even though expert after expert, including the current manager of the park who is an arborist and knows more about trees than you has said otherwise. You are really not looking very smart.

Carsten Glaeser, another arborist, has a letter in the paper about this very issue. Read it.

All accounts have the JPCA who you hate so much welcoming a dog run in Juniper Valley Park. Surely a better use of your time would be to work out the location instead of rehashing old battles in online forums.

Anonymous said...

I know full well that Forest Park has offleash as well as a dog run. if I am not mistaken, it's in the same general vicinity. So the previous arguments remain valid.

mark said...

In response to........

"rego park said...
keep living your lives through your dogs and leave the rest of us alone"

Well Rego, this post really makes no sense. All we want is a doggone (forgive the pun) dog park. I don't know how you live your life, but if you are not hurting anyone else, I support your right to live it as you please. This whole thing is pretty simple. Big park, need dog park. Plenty of room for all of us. Please use some of our tax money to build it.

To the Anonymous I say......

Get a cool name like Rego already. Ok, you and your experts say the trees are sick. Maybe so. Give us our park, we'll build benches around the trees to protect them from the evil urine, the rest of the trees in the park should thrive in their "urine free enviroment".

To Rego Park said...

With an attitude such as yours, dogs are preferable.

Compromise said...

Anon said "I know full well that Forest Park has offleash as well as a dog run. if I am not mistaken, it's in the same general vicinity. So the previous arguments remain valid."

No, this invalidates you.

But here is a compromise.. build a dog park in JVP where the civic wants and keep off-leash in the rest of the park.

John Smith said...

Tree experts on can disagree, but all agree that trees should be nurtured. The trees in the dog owners preferred area can be protected so that they grouw better than they are now or have in the past.

There are dog parks throughout NYC with healthy trees growing in them. The proof is there for all to see.

Yes, it takes effort in a small area, but it can be done and should be done.

The civic's recommendations are too small, poorly located, and awkwardly configured. So their recommendations are doomed to failure.

Let's do it right: size, location, configuration.

It can be done without causing rifts in the community. But nasty comments do nothing to promote a solution.

Let us dog owners work with Parks and the city to design and propose a proper dog park for JVP. Then decide. The current process is backwards.

It's not up to JPCA or the CB or even the dog owners to design the dog park. Let the Parks Department do it with the input of dog owners while considering the comments from the civic as well as all citizens of the community; the marjority of whom are not affiliated.

Anonymous said...

The JPCA is 'FOR' alot of long as everything is done 'THEIR' way!..the way they want it, where they want it, etc...especialy if they know thbe location they pick is a bad one and will fail in time. That way they can stand proud and say" we were all for it, but its just not working ....sorry" So they always LOOK like the good guy...we never said they were stupid, but apparently they think dog owners are. As far as living our lives through our least we have a life...we don't spend it trying to run everyone elses lives around us. Maybe you should find a hobby, you obviously have way too much time on your hands, if you have this much time to sit here and make up reasons and excuses all day about something that is inevitable! This is the 21st century or haven't you heard? Take off those 1950's glasses.

Phyllis said...

"Tree experts on can disagree..."

No, you don't seem to get it. None of them are disagreeing. All of them are saying urine is bad for trees. Building a bench around the trunks does nothing because the roots spread out under ground.

"build a dog park in JVP where the civic wants and keep off-leash in the rest of the park."

First of all, off-leash is not allowed "in the rest of the park." There is a designated area for it at specific hours, even though a lot of dog owners use the entire park as an off-leash area whenever they feel like it.

From what I understand, the civic group is not the one proposing a dog park, the dog group is. The JPCA seems to just be suggesting a location. The ultimate decision belongs to Parks and their arborist doesn't seem to like the dog group's proposed location, either.

The alternate locations suggested are only "doomed to fail" if you want them to fail. All issues except protecting the health of the mature trees can be worked around.

Anonymous said...


WRONG! Off-leash is in the park in areas not otherwise prohibited. The spot the dog owners use is the dog owners preferred spot.

But let's suppose for a second that you are right (which you are not, but you like fiction based on your post)...

So Parks with its experts in tree care designed off-leash in the spot dog owners currently use and now want to enclose with fencing. Either Parks is irresponsible or they know more about trees that you do. I suspect the latter.

Tree roots do spread and sometimes great distances. By your misinformed post, dogs should be killing trees everywhere. You'd think with 60+ million dogs in America, the epidemic of dog-caused tree deaths would rank up there with global warming and swine flu. Even Fox News has not made this absurd allegation.

There are benches around the trees at the Hillside Dog Park in Brooklyn Heights. The trees are healthy and growing happily as dogs frolic in their 2 acre paradise.

Now maybe the trees there are not as impaced because the dog park is adequately sized; thereby spreading out dog urine.

Incidentally, dogs tend to urine on the walk to dog parks, not within dog parks. Anyone knowledgeable about dog behavior would know that.

The JPCA is not merely "suggesting." As usual, they are demanding as if the park is their private domain.

The JPCA has not met with dog owners to actually listen to them about their needs and desires. Instead, they continue to proclaim themselves as the arbiters (and aborists) of what is right. They suddenly have tree experts, but they do not have a dog expert.

Returning to your premise: Parks decided the present area is best for off-leash. Therefore, enclosing the area with fencing would merely keep dogs entirely within that area. Sounds like the best solution to me.

Terri Sullivan said...

I need to clarify one comment that is entirely incorrect. Offleash is allowed in all areas of Juniper Park with the exception of Ballfields & Playgrounds. That the dog owners try to keep offleash contained in one are is a courtesy on the part the dog owners and not a rule of the park.

Anonymous said...

In Phyllis' defense the above post was NOT posted by phyllis .

She is blocked from this site from work and has not posted any comments what so ever. If you feel differently she would like you to call her at work to discuss this matter. 212-723-6041.
She would like to know who IS posting using her name...
Her friend Kathy

Anonymous said...

The following excerpt can be found in

"DOG RUNS: Dog runs are large, fenced-in areas for dogs to exercise unleashed. Created with the expertise of a Parks Department landscape architect and volunteers, the runs encourage play while supplying good drainage, safe lighting and healthy planting."

My question: If dog urine destroys trees and plantings, why would an expert Parks Department landscape architect plant trees and healthy plantings in dog parks?