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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Will Dog Run Replace Basketball Court, Fountain, Lawn Or Trees At Roosevelt Island's Blackwell Park? RIOC Operations Committee To Discuss At Meeting

Image of Blackwell House and Park
According to RIOC:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York. The Committee will meet to:

1. discuss the Blackwell Park conceptual design; and
2. receive an update on the Verizon FIOS Roosevelt Island Project.
What's the status of the Blackwell Park Master Plan re-design prior to Operations Committee Meeting? As reported in this November 19 post:
... the latest news on proposed Blackwell Park Master Plan that was opposed by many members of the Roosevelt Island community is that work on the project has been put on hold and the contract with the landscape architect Lee Weintraub has been suspended...
The reasons for community opposition to the plan are summarized in a letter from the Blackwell Park Task Force to RIOC VP Of Planning and Inter-Governmental Affairs Rosina Abramson included in November 19 post.

A new issue in the Blackwell Park Master Plan Redesign saga was raised by Ms. Abramson during November 20 RIOC Real Estate Development Committee meeting. Ms Abramson claimed that in addition to the Southtown Tot Lot being moved to Blackwell Park when construction of Riverwalk Buildings 7-9 commences, the Southtown Development Agreement requires RIOC to also move the Southtown Dog Run to Blackwell Park as well.

Image of Southtown Dog Run From Roosevelt Island 360

Ms Abramson did not say what feature currently in Blackwell Park such as the Basketball Courts, Fountain, Lawn or trees would have to be removed to accommodate the dog run.

Image of Blackwell Park Basketball Court

Image of Blackwell Park Fountain

Image of Blackwell Park Lawn

The RIOC Directors present at the meeting (Kalkin, Polivoy and RIOC nominee Smith) were not pleased at the Dog Run news and were highly skeptical that this was part of the Agreement. They asked Ms. Abramson to show them where this provision compelling RIOC to install a Dog Run in Blackwell Park was in the Agreement. She was not able to do so at the meeting.

Yesterday, I asked David Kramer, Principal at Hudson Companies, developer of Roosevelt Island Riverwalk buildings (together with Related Companies):
As you may know there has been quite alot of controversy on Roosevelt Island regarding RIOC's initial plan to re-make Blackwell Park. According to RIOC, the idea began because of the necessity to move the Southtown Tot lot from its current location if and when Riverwalk Building 7-9 start construction.

As of now, the plan to alter Blackwell Park has been put on hold but a new issue was raised during the 11/10 Real Estate Committee meeting (which primarily discussed Main Street Master Leaseholder Plan) when RIOC's Rosina Abramson claimed that under the Southtown Development agreement RIOC was required to also include the current Southtown Dog Run in a re-developed Blackwell Park when Riverwalk Buildings 7-9 start contruction. From your perspective is that true - Is there a legal obligation upon RIOC to place the current Dog Run in a new Blackwell Park once construction starts on the new buildings?

If so, what current portion of Blackwell Park would be removed. Basketball Courts, Fountain, Trees, Lawn etc?

In my opinion a dog run for Blackwell Park will result in significant community opposition. I already see people, mostly from the new rental and condo building using adjacent Firemen's Field as a place to walk and let their dogs run unleashed.
Mr. Kramer replied:
Why would anyone oppose a dog run? It was intended as a concession to the anti-dog crowd by giving our canine friends a place to congregate. What am I missing?
I replied to Mr. Kramer:
This is what you may be missing.

If the current Southtown Dog run planned to be removed sometime in the future is placed in Blackwell Park that means something that is now there and enjoyed will be removed given Blackwell Park's limited size. Blackwell Park, given the current boundaries, is not large enough to add a dog run to it.

So the opposition is about what will be taken out of the current Blackwell Park if a dog run is placed there? The Basketball Courts, Fountain, Lawn, Trees etc?

Separate and apart from this objection is also the objection to dog owners who do not properly take care of their pets, not cleaning up after them and allowing the dogs to run unleased even though there is a dog run currently available to them.
Let's see what RIOC has to say about Blackwell Park conceptual plan at Wednesday's Operations Committee meeting. The webcast of the meeting will be available here.


Anonymous said...

Why do we need another dog run? Everyone lets their dogs run around off their leash anyway.

Anonymous said...

Before it spends more money and/or property on dog runs,suggest RIOC
install some benches at the bus stops.

Anonymous said...

I think the Blackwell Park is nice as it is. Why does RIOC want to fix what needs not to be fixed (this park, the Red Bus schedule) and doesn't fix what needs to be fixed (retail on Main Street, Motorgate - lighting and elevators on the north side of Motorgate?)

Monica McLaughlin said...

What is the problem with the location of the current Southtown Dog Run?

jamieps said...

Dogs are not allowed in many areas of Roosevelt Island at all. Dogs are not allowed off leash on any part of the island, except in the dog runs. If dogs are going to be restricted from so many places on the island, it is important that there be a small area designated for dogs were they can exercise in Southtown. I don't understand the objection to this idea. If dogs have a place to run around, people recreating with their dogs will less likely to disturb others.

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