Dog owners in Bushwick have reason to rejoice as the Maria Hernandez Park dog run, infamous for dust and rain puddles, is undergoing a $300,000 renovation.
The schematic design for the neighborhood’s only official canine playground, released by the Parks Department, shows the small dog area and the big dog area will both expand, incorporating some adjacent grassy space.
Currently all dirt, the dog run will be covered with a special K9 turf that includes drainage. Trees will be planted outside the runs to provide some shade, and seating and lighting will increase, the rendering shows. Drinking fountains will include dog bowls and hose hookups.
The dedicated Maria Hernandez Park Dog Run Pack volunteer group, which frequently hosts cleanups at the park and has been advocating for upgrades, posted the rendering on its Instagram page last week. Overall, members are happy with the plans, they said.
The group’s two suggestions for improvement are incorporating a small gravel area for pet relief and adding more paving around the entrances for proper ADA access.
The schematic designs are still a work in progress, and feedback from the community board is being incorporated, a spokesperson from the Parks Department told Brownstoner. A final design will be presented to the community board in February.
“We’re completely reconstructing the dog run at Maria Hernandez Park, giving Bushwick residents and their four-legged friends a beautiful, safe space for recreation and connection,” Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher said in a statement.
Maher added the revamped dog run joins other investments happening within the park, and he thanked local Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. The money for the dog run repairs came from Gutiérrez’s discretionary funds in 2022.
Sports turf, a workout area, and skateboard ramp have all also recently been added to the park. Currently in the design phase is a children’s playground renovation, budgeted for as much as $10 million.
The park is one of the few outdoor leisure areas in Bushwick and is a popular community gathering spot. Especially on nights and weekends in the warmer months, it is often thronged with groups of all ages socializing, including families and soccer and volleyball players. Vendors sell toys and snacks, and the green space also sometimes hosts meetings, protests, and events.
The current timeline for completion of the dog run is January 2025, although construction timelines will not be set until after procurement, the Parks spokesperson said. The dog run will be fully closed for around one year to accommodate the work, according to the Maria Hernandez Park Dog Run Pack volunteers.
The dog run at Maria Hernandez Park is the only dedicated off-leash area for dogs in Bushwick, and locals have long asked for improvements and expansion. While the jury is still out on whether the pandemic led to an increase in dog ownership in the city, dramas centered around off-leash dogs and owners who don’t clean up after their dogs occur frequently on social media.
In Bushwick, fences and padlocks were installed in 2022 at Green Central Knoll (bordered by Evergreen, Central, and Flushing avenues and Knoll Street) to prevent dogs and their owners from using the softball fields as a run. However, some recent visits showed that dogs have made somewhat of a comeback at the field.
Across Broadway in Bed Stuy, the dog run at Herbert Von King was recently revamped, but the dirt surface was replaced with bark chips and the area is still prone to flooding. Local dog owners have been advocating to get better drainage installed. Meanwhile, back in Bushwick, dog owners around Irving Square Park have also been asking local pols for a fenced-off dog run at the park.
This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner.