Major renovation for UWS dog run

The year-long project will transform the popular but worn-out facility in Theodore Roosevelt Park
By Jason Cohen

Starting this month, a dog run next to the Museum of Natural History will receive a nearly $700,000 facelift.

Work will begin on July 27th to renovate the Bull Moose Dog Run in Theodore Roosevelt Park. The project will cost $684,000 and is being funded by Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Helen Rosenthal. It is expected to be completed in a year.

According to Crystal Howard, assistant commissioner of communications for the Parks Department, the upgrade will repair the broken drainage system, provide ADA accessible seating areas, reconfigure the small-dog area and protect existing mature trees. Improvements will include a new fence, a drinking fountain with a dog bowl, a double gate and steel mesh tree guards.

“This project, when completed, will address the long term issues of concern,” Howard said. “In the short-term, as recently as last summer, we purchased a sump-pump and have worked with the community that uses the run ... to address pooling after excessive rains.”

Brewer’s Role

Borough President spokesperson Courtney McGee said helping repair the dog run was important for Brewer. The BP has allocated a total of $582k for the project over the years, in four installments, beginning when she was a council member and allocated $250k. She added $332k as BP.

“The Bull Moose Dog Run was a long haul,” McGee said. “The dog owners have been nothing but patient and responsive during this process. Gale has been in contact with them regarding this for years. The parks department painstakingly listened to concerns of both dog owners and community members. This is important to her because it’s important to the community members to have a safe, clean place for their beloved dogs.”

What Took So Long?

While work is now underway, not everyone is thrilled. Elaine Boxer, of the Bull Moose Dog Run Association, said the organization is grateful for the help from elected officials and is looking forward to the work’s completion. But, she added, it’s been a long time coming.

“It took over seven years just to get here,” Boxer said, “... including one three-year stretch when absolutely nothing happened, causing Community Board 7 to have to pass a second resolution to kick-start the project.”

Boxer said the drainage has been a problem for more than a decade, and rain causes major flooding that persists for two to three days. She also said the run is filthy and animals catch giardia from the standing water, which inevitably has feces in it.

After years of use, Boxer explained, the run is no longer a flat surface, but deeply bowl-shaped. Without necessary surface maintenance or replacement of surface material, she added, the base layer has been exposed, which includes sharp rocks that cut the dogs’ paws.

Boxer said she and her organization could not fathom why the run will be closed for a year. “It’s only a quarter acre of land, and the project has no demolition or construction, so a year seems ridiculously excessive,” she said.

The cost of the project also seems excessive, she said. “The budget is eye-watering. We are not just dog owners but also taxpayers, so we’re not thrilled that what started as a simple plea to repair the drainage has turned into a $684,000 project”

Fund-raiser Planned

The Bull Moose Dog Run community is hosting a Farewell-for-Now party and doggy playdate on July 20 (rain date July 21) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. There will be homemade dog treats available, and people can make an optional donation to the Bull Moose Dog Run Association. Funds raised are for future maintenance of the dog run.