Volume 74, Number 39 | February 2 - 8, 2005

Dog run group is tail-waggin’ happy after meeting with Parks

By Lincoln Anderson

Although a few weeks ago it appeared a dogfight was imminent over the Parks Department’s plans for Washington Sq.’s two dog runs under the park’s planned renovation, things are now looking much better, according to the large dog run’s vice president.

Clay Bushong said a small group of representatives of the dog run recently met with Bill Castro, Manhattan borough Parks Department commissioner, and George Vellonakis, the landscape architect doing the redesign.

“The majority of dog owners are pretty happy about where stuff is now” Bushong said. “They’ve promised us a world-class dog run and we’ve started a dialogue. We think we’re heading in a positive direction.”

Bushong said the layout for the space now being proposed is better, less long and narrow, without niches where dogs could be out of sight of their owners and, overall, “provides more usable space.” There may be a state-of-the-art nighttime sprinkler system to wash down the run, which may also possibly be open 24 hours.

The group will constitute a Dog Run Committee that will meet on an ongoing basis with Parks over the next few years as the project is done.

Bushong still hopes lots of dog owners and others turn out for Community Board 2’s Parks Committee meeting on Wed. night, at 6:30 p.m., at 75 Morton St., at which the redesign plans will be presented publicly for the first time.

“I hope families come out, I hope everyone comes out, because people will be using this park for years to come,” he said.

“I think the process is going very well,” said Borough Commissioner Castro, speaking on Monday, adding he planned to follow up with the Dog Run Committee before Wednesday’s meeting. As for the mounds, the fenced-off children’s play hillocks that so far don’t appear to be in Parks’ redesign, Castro said, “We’re going to be speaking with [the mounds group] shortly. We’re trying to set up a meeting — to see if we can agree on something. I’m hopeful we can.” Bushong said when he last saw the plans two weeks ago, there were no mounds in them.

Castro said he doubted Board 2’s Parks Committee would vote on the redesign on Wednesday night.

“I don’t think they’ll vote on it,” he said. “I think they want to make sure they’ve heard from the public — and we want to hear from as many people as we can.” The project is still slated to start in June or July, Castro said. The plan is to refurbish the park in two nine-month-to-one-year phases, doing one half of the park at a time, while leaving the other half open for public use.

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