Dog gone! Board barks over BID’s beg for puppy run

The Brooklyn Paper
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Downtown is going to have to wait to get a dog run.

Community Board 2 on Monday all but shot down a new proposal to build a pooch pen somewhere in the booming residential neighborhood — in part because the area already has a few open spaces, but also because all those new Downtown residents need to wait their turn.

“Boerum Hill has been waiting for a dog run for more than 20 years,” said Parks Committee member Mary Goodman, a longtime dog advocate. “Why do we have to cater to all the new people and their dogs coming in?”

The Metrotech Business Improvement District had proposed four sites for the dog run, arguing that the influx of new residents and residential towers is already translating into more dogs. Michael Weiss, the BID’s executive director, said that the number of families within his 20-block district has grown from about 10 to 1,500 in just three years.

Plus, most of the luxury condo towers popping up in the area — the Brooklyner, Avalon Bay, and Toren among them, each with more than 250 units — don’t have quarters to let a dog roam. Some of those condos, like the BellTell Lofts on Bridge Street, already have more than 40 dogs living alongside their human pets.

“We feel a responsibility for the residents coming to this area — they’re looking for services,” Weiss said. “This area doesn’t have a lot of open space.”

But board members didn’t want the new dogs encroaching on existing parks, all of which are highly sought after for their space and development potential. One of the proposed spots, in McLaughlin Park at Jay and Tillary streets, has space that’s “already spoken for” by other groups, one board member said.

And Goodman said that another location is already spoken for by the Parks Department.

The board didn’t vote on the proposal — the meeting was an “ideas session” — but members had few good things to say about the BID’s suggestions. Then again, members didn’t reject a tiny triangular patch of land at Myrtle and Flatbush avenues. But Weiss said that dog walkers are already calling that site too small.

The board also argued that there are already off-leash hours and dog runs in and around Downtown, like the cordoned-off section of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, Hillside Dog Park on Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights, and the off-leash hours at Cadman Plaza Park. All three of those areas, however, are far from the new Downtown Gold Coast along Flatbush Avenue Extension.

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018: Includes a bit more context.
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Reasonable discourse

Dog from Park says:
Dogs are so cute.
Sept. 21, 2010, 1:40 am
Zeke Pelfrey from Carroll Gardens says:
VIVA los perros!
Sept. 21, 2010, 7:55 am
Mike Weiss from MetroTech says:
The first sentance in the story is not accurate. Nothing was "shot down" in terms of ideas. We had a good discussion with many suggestions that will, no doubt, be followed up. It was agreed that this issue would continue to be discussed at future meetings.
Sept. 21, 2010, 8:42 am
Matthew Parker from Accurate Reporting says:

I attended this meeting last night. The Brooklyn Paper story is misleading and fundamentally incorrect--especially regarding "nixing" a downtown dog run. Also, Mary's quote is taken way out of context in this article.

On the contrary, Michael Weiss, the MetroTech BID representative, and the CB will continue exploring options for one or more dog runs in the Flatbush corridor over the next few weeks. The CB did NOT "nix" the idea of exploring one or more dog runs for the increasing population of the Downtown area.

Regarding Mary Goodman's quote, pulled way out of context: Mary was correctly pointing out to the CB members and the BID representative that there have been many (failed) attempts at building a dog run for the Downtown/Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill neighborhoods for 20 years. Mary was making an argument for changing the site search for a Downtown dog run away from the Columbus Park/Cadman area (which is already in relatively close proximity to Cadman's 9-9 offleash hours and Hillside Park) which some on the CB and the BID representative were proposing, and focus insted on bringing a dog run to an area that has no options currently, and that can serve more dog run users.

That area would be further south closer to Boreum Hill and the new Flatbush corridor, rather than simply catering to the new half-full high rises. The high rise residents would still be able to use a new run, but more people would be closer to the site. Mary is looking to maximize the usage of the run in a more underserved area.

Word to the wise: Don't rely on the Brooklyn Paper for accurate news reporting. I've seen them over the years make too many mistakes, run sloppy reporting, and often their reporters misrepresent "evidence" to back up their a priori conclusions.
Sept. 21, 2010, 8:49 am
Mary Goodman from Brooklyn Heights says:
Andrew Campbell, get your facts straight before you write. The Parks Committee DID NOT NIX A NEW DOG RUN. I DID NOT SAY "NO" to a new dog run. I want to see a new dog run built that serves the occupants of the new buildings and current dog owners who have no dog nearby run -- people and their dogs in Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill.

The BID's proposed locations are too close to an area that aleady has 4 dog spaces: Hillside Dog Park, Cadman Plaza North off-leash hours, and a little further away the State Street/Palmetto Park dog run and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Dog Run.

The location in McLaughlin Park is slated to become a Community Garden and has been plannned and designed for years. It is not "unused." In addition, long narrow spaces are ill-suited to dog runs -- the dogs are more likely to get into scuffles and general trouble.

Mr Campbell, how about consideration of a space that's more equidistant from these new developments and Boerum Hill -- like the 16 Sycamores handball court on Schermerhorn St, which I belive to be little-used, or the parking lot near Flatbush and State? Boerum Hill has needed a dog run for years -- and no, I don't live there. Were you aware of this issue, Mr Campbell? I guess not.

How about knowing something about your topic., doing some research, and reporting what actually occurred at the meeting? I guess not.
Sept. 21, 2010, 8:51 am
Mary Goodman from Brooklyn Heights says:
Just to be clear, I am not officially empowered to speak for CB2 or its committees — that’s for the District Manager and Chairperson to do. I am, however, representing the tenor of the meeting as honestly and accurately as I possibly can. Mr. Parker and Mr Weiss are doing the same.
Sept. 21, 2010, 1:13 pm
Citizen from Brooklyn says:
Calm down Weiss, Parker and Mary Goodman. Had any of you took a deep breath and re-read the article, you would have noticed the writer isn't saying what you're saying he's saying. By the way, Flatbush and State is an excellent location for as large a dog run as can be had there.
Sept. 21, 2010, 10:06 pm
Mary Goodman from Brooklyn Heights says:
The lot I'm thinking of -- and I did say near Flatbush & State --is closer to Schermerhorn and Flatbush, and you'll notice I didn't give an exact location because I wasn't sure of it. That is the only salient point I can see from "Citizen in Brooklyn," who is probably Brooklyn Paper employee.

The article is inaccurate on many points. To name a few, the current off-leash areas are not that far away from the "Gold Coast." I was asking that a new off-leash space serve the largest possible number of dog-owning residents. Broooklyn has the smallest amount of open space per resident of all the boroughs, so we have to choose those open spaces wisely. None of this made it into the article. Forget us calming down -- the Brookln Paper needs to wake up on this issue.
Sept. 22, 2010, 5:54 am
Matthew Parker from Reality Check says:

Were you at the meeting? Probably not, unless you're the reporter going anonymous.

If you were at the meeting, you would understand that the article does not represent an accurate reportage.

This is not the first time this "Brooklyn Paper" reporter has distorted/sensationalized a simple story.

I realize covering CB subcommittee meetings in windowless rooms at the back of a hospital cafeteria is not "sexy" for newspaper reporters, but distorting/sensationalizing what was discussed is not going to make the story more exciting. It just misinforms the public, creates unnecessary confusion and wastes peoples' time.

The Brooklyn Paper prides itself on winning awards for journalistic excellence. I'm not seeing that level of excellence in this case. The citizens of Brooklyn deserve nothing less.
Sept. 22, 2010, 10:48 am
Stacey from Downtown says:
Build a dog run in downtown Brooklyn. I refuse to go to crime ridden Fort Greene park to not only look after my dog but looking behind me to make sure a pack of thugs isn't trying to rob me.
Sept. 22, 2010, 5:33 pm
John in the Brooklyner from Downtown says:

My wife and I just moved into the Brooklyner with our 2yo lab/hound mix.

If the issue is finding "unused" space...

Why not just fence in the area in the BID plaza that has the gravel / pine trees already there? There are walkways already there that everyone uses to walk around the area anyway, the benches can just be relocated across the sidewalk into the sunny/grassy area, along with a few of the many trash cans that already line this area, and throw up a fence around it? If BID wants to see a dog run, why not do it in their own plaza? If even half of this area is dedicated to a run, it would be decent sized... And the bronze dog statue in the corner would fit right in.

I am not sure how the approval process up here... I was involved with the FL Legislature before moving up here, so I know there are hoops that must be jumped through, but I don't know which hoop would be easiest/best option for the "tower" residents to support.
Sept. 23, 2010, 7:27 pm
Mary Goodman from Brooklyn Heights says:
John, I don't know for sure which area you're writing about, but it certainly sounds like something worth investigating! I'll try to have a look at it over the weekend. Thanks for the suggestion.
Sept. 23, 2010, 8:01 pm
Matthew Parker says:

Your suggestion was discussed at the CB meeting. That area in the BID plaza is on private land owned by Forest City Ratner (the MetroTech Developer).

It is possible for the private developer to provide a dog run in the BID plaza, but not likely. The MetroTech developer will wonder why it is his responsible for providng land and services to residents of other developers' private residential buildings. I believe Mike Weiss, the BID representative was going to check on that idea, but he didn't seem to feel that the MetroTech developer would provide private land for other developer's private buildings' residents. In fact, the BID has kicked off this exploratory initiative due to a perceived problem of dog urine on their private land.

There was also a brief discussion for the private developers who created the new highrises (such as the Brooklyner) coming up with a private solution, but it's frankly unlikely. Perhaps resident of the Brooklyner can petition management?

There's a fundamental issue here of private developers creating high concentrations of housing units (such as the Brooklyner), and then relying on the City to provide services (such as a dog run).

The downtown Bklyn area is very developed, with little Parks land available. In NYC most dog runs are on public Parks Dept-owned land. Also, we're in an era of significant budget deficits where the NYC Parks Department has had its budget slashed year after year. Even if a public location could be identified and agreed upon, the next challenge will be funding the build and maintenance of one or more dog runs.

I'm the VP of the New York Council of Dog Owners Groups (, and also the President of Friends of Hillside Dog Park, Inc. NYCdog exists to help new and existing groups of dog owners work with the City to create and maintain dog runs. We've gone from the first dog run in NYC back in 1991 to over 50 dog runs today.

It's not an easy process to create a dog run, and it often takes years and there are a lot of moving parts. People involved need to realize the challenges.

The first step is for dog owners to organize and form a group. The NYC Parks Department wants to see this type of organization before seriously considering spending resources and parkland to provide a dog run to any area. I've been through this with other groups in all five boroughs.

I'll be working with dog owners, the CB, and the BID to faciliate this process and we'll see where it goes. NYCdog is currently working on several other dog runs projects.

However, dog owners must get involved. This process won't be done for you by the "powers that be."
Sept. 24, 2010, 1:36 pm
Mary Goodman from Broooklyn Heights says:
Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Parker. I will try to have a look in any case.
Sept. 24, 2010, 6:50 pm

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