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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Something Is Rotten In The State Of Roosevelt Island Dog Parks Says Resident - Petey's Dog Dad Offers Suggestions For Improvements

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council member for the Octagon building and dog dad to Roosevelt Island’s most famous black lab mix Petey, Scott Piro reports:

Something is rotten in the state of our Dogparks

It’s hard to believe dogs have only been sanctioned in the island’s residential buildings for just over a decade. The Octagon was first to implement a pro-dog policy when it opened in 2007, and most of the other buildings followed suit after that except for Manhattan Park, which I understand does not allow dogs..

Many of our open spaces - both public and private - prohibit dogs,


and the island’s strict leash policy means where they are permitted, it’s not for free play. Owners who want their pooches to have socialized, off leash play in a legal environment, enclosed and protected from potential harms of traffic have two options: a pair of no-frills, fenced-in patches of land unofficially known as the the South Dog Run and the North Dog Run.

A post shared by ScottyP (@scottpiro) on

Both are located on the eastern side of Roosevelt Island. The South Run is just south of Riverwalk Point buildings at 480 Main Street,


down the hill from the construction trailer and NYPD dog agility enclosure. The North Run is located at the end of Main Street, just north of The Octagon and before Coler Hospital’s northeast parking lot.

 Image From Google Maps

How are these twin doggy playgrounds holding up? The don’t need to be fancy to be well maintained and safe for people and dogs. So, are they? Let’s have a look:

The South Run

The South Dog Run boasts a “double-gate” entry, designed to prevent dogs from escaping the run when new people and their pets enter or leave. However, the inner gate does not operate properly. Its axle is warped, causing the gate to dig into the dirt and restricting its movement. Its latch is too narrow to properly close around the fence poll - meaning, it does not lock or close properly. Finally, it suffers from poor placement. It’s located in a corner, allowing dogs entering the run to be cornered by those already inside - a situation which can lead to dog fights.

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The South run’s base is 100% dirt, making every trip either a dusty one (in good weather) or a muddy one (in poor weather).

There is no shade in the park, due to the lack of trees and landscaping around it. Nor is there a running water supply - a condition that makes the run especially hazardous in the summer.

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The run is not divided into separate areas for large and small dogs, to the detriment of small dog owners, who lack a safe zone for dogs requiring more protection.

There is not adequate seating for people in the park. The lone picnic table was not designed with dogs in mind. The surface is metal mesh, which can catch dogs’ nails and accidentally rip them off. A recent modification topped the surfaces with two-by-fours. While well intentioned, this still leaves some of the dangerous mesh exposed, and because the wood is untreated, there is now a risk of splinters for children and adults.

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Wire mesh was extended down below the fencing in a few sections where the fence is too short and does not touch the ground. This is a relatively recent improvement. There is a poop bag dispenser, a wise move which aids in the run’s self-cleaning by owners.

There is no signage with rules and regulations posted in the run.

The North Run

The North Run is in comparatively better condition, but it shares some issues with its southern counterpart - and has unique problems of its own.

Like the the South Run, the North Run’s gate suffers from poor placement. It’s corner-placed and can foster dog fights from new entries to the run.

The land is in better condition, yet the same alternating dirty and muddy conditions prevail. There is a separate area for small dogs, yet RIOC is not mowing it. This creates a hazardous tick situation for dogs. It’s very unkind - why is RIOC mowing all around the dog run, but not inside?

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There is some shade, thanks to one adjacent tree - but no running water source. There is a poop bag dispenser for the small dog section, but not one in the main area. Someone is using an ad-hoc solution of threading bags through the wire mesh, but it creates a litter problem more than anything else.

Seating is inadequate - just a single bench.

Dogs have dug holes throughout the park, creating multiple threats. People can easily twist or break an ankle. And, where the mesh no longer fully extends down to the ground on the southern side and below the bench on the eastern side, smaller dogs can fit through and escape. The gate poses the same problem, because the gap between axle and fence is wide enough to allow smaller dogs a way out.

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There is no signage with rules and regulations posted in the run.

Looking ahead

The thousands of tax-paying dog owners on Roosevelt Island deserve dogparks that are not only safe from traffic, but also:
  • Clean
  • Shaded
  • Have a running water source
  • Have adequate seating
  • Clearly marked with rules and regulations
Instead of band-aids, both parks should be fully redesigned with:
  • Decomposed granite surface
  • High-low water fountains
  • Properly functioning double-gates, situated on a side (not in a corner)
  • Separate areas for large & small dogs
  • Durable signage of rules & regulations
  • Shade
  • Adequate seating
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Dog owners who would like to join the Roosevelt Island Dogs chat group on Whatsapp should visit: bit.ly/islanddogparks.  Click on the link from your phone to join.

We use the group to arrange play sessions in the runs, exchange veterinarian and dog food information, etc. If you don’t have Whatsapp, it’s a popular mobile chat app, owned by Facebook. Download it here.

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