Kips Bay Residents Reach Homestretch of Long-Awaited Dog Run

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The location of the proposed dog run along the East River Esplanade between 38th and 39th streets. Photo by Jessica Wade

Over 5,000 dogs call Midtown’s Kips Bay neighborhood home, according to NYC Open Data.

Despite being one of the most pet-populated areas in Manhattan, the area from East 26th Street to East 40th Street is still without an official dog run.

“Many neighboring areas are being used as unofficial dog runs,” said Steven Oh, a volunteer at neighborhood advocacy group, Alliance for Kips Bay. “Dog owners are also resorting to children’s playgrounds which are unsafe for several reasons.¬†Because of this, owners are receiving fines for having unleashed dogs around children. It just doesn’t work.”

To solve the problem, Alliance for Kips Bay developed a plan in April with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to design and implement a dog run along the East River Esplanade between 38th and 39th streets. The plan for the 300-foot-long space includes new benches, trash cans, a tool shed, and dog necessities such as bags and water bowls. It also includes a designated area for smaller dogs.

Kips Bay resident Raul Trisal walks his American Foxhound near the East River every day. “I take him up near the esplanade as he’s a good off-leash dog, so we play along there, but I would feel much safer with proper fencing,” he said.

Funding for the dog run was secured through the city council in August, but a delay in allocating those funds temporarily suspended the project. The parks department said it is now ready to move ahead after the funding was added to its budget last week.

“Each year, we find out in late June or early July which potential projects will receive funding. Once funding is secured, we begin the project initiation phase,” said Meghan Lalor, Director of Media Relations at the department.

The project initiation phase includes ordering materials and discussing construction logistics. It’s expected to begin in coming days.

Kips Bay resident and owner of two Pomeranians, Jane Tran, said there is a dire need for the run. “The closest park for me is Madison Square Park, which is still a twenty-minute walk,” she said. “I wish they had the luxury of a park or green space, but that hasn’t been the case.”

There are 35 dog runs in Manhattan, including five on the Upper West Side, parks department data indicates. That is the most of any district in Manhattan. There are also 23 dog-friendly, off-leash areas accessible to Upper West Side residents in Central Park.

“We have space for them, said Barbara Adler, co-chair of the Community Board 7 Parks and Environment Committee. “Our area has more parks than just about any other in Manhattan and surely more than Kips Bay.”

Adler said that while her neighborhood allows for more dog runs, the process is still the same. She explained that the Bull Moose Dog Run on West 81st Street and Central Park West was created after a landscape redesign near the Museum of Natural History.

“A group of Upper West Side residents lobbied for it and got it. It probably took a few years of nagging the powers that be,” said Adler.

Oh, a first-time community project lead, said that while the process has felt long, he has been reassured the timeline is surprisingly quick. “The parks department said this is considered lightning speed in terms of parks projects. From concept, to funding, to attempted scheduling. Under a year is unheard of,” he said.

Oh is optimistic that the dog run will be completed in November.

“It’d be nice if the neighborhood started to look a little bit more like a neighborhood. Seeing dogs, families, and kids. That is what I’m striving for,” he said.