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Murray Dog Run in LIC an ‘Eyesore’ in Major Need of Improvements, Petition Says

Dogs at the Murray Dog Run in Court Square (Photo: Richard Sowell)

May 17, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A popular dog run in Long Island City is in desperate need of upgrades, according to a petition that says the site has become unsightly and hazardous for pets.

Sharp rocks, layers of mud and “throw away” lawn furniture are just some of the scenes at Murray Playground’s dog run at 45th Road and 11th Street in Court Square, according to Richard Sowell, the petition’s creator who has spent months pushing the city to improve the site.

“It’s been that way for a number of years, and it is progressively getting worse,” Sowell, a local resident and dog-walker, said to the LIC Post.

Sowell says there are several muddy spots throughout the run that hold water for long periods of time, which eventually become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.

When the spots dry up, the multiple dogs at the park can easily kick up clouds of dust—sending urine and feces particles up in the air, too.

“While we’re standing there watching our dogs play, we’re inhaling this dirt,” he said. “You can actually taste the grittiness in your mouth.”

Photo: Richard Sowell

Sowell says the dog run here pales in comparison to those along the Hunters Point waterfront, where a recent study found that the waterfront zip code has the highest proportion of licensed dogs to people in the city.

But simply walking to the waterfront dog runs isn’t an option, he said, as time adds up between walking to and from the sites.

Sowell and others have taken to writing letters to Community Board 2 and NYC Parks in recent months asking for something to be done at the dog run, along with creating the petition about two weeks ago that has since gathered 51 signatures.

Many of the petition’s supporters echo Sowell’s concerns, noting the park’s “dirty” and “poor condition,” and pointing to the dog run largely being left out of a $1.275 million revamp to the entire playground in 2014.

Community Board 2, in response to Sowell’s January and February letters, sent a letter to NYC Parks requesting that an inspection be done to the site and that necessary repairs be made.

In a statement sent to the LIC Post, NYC Parks acknowledged some of the dog run’s issues.

“The dog run in John F. Murray Park has been around for more than 20 years, but has not had a major capital reconstruction,” said Meghan Lalor, NYC Parks spokesperson. “The soil on site is very rocky, and doesn’t drain well after significant rain. We will look into ways to mitigate these issues for the short term, as we seek funding for a full capital renovation of the site.”

Sowell, however, is aware that funding is hard to come by for improvements, and is attempting to form a community group to raise money instead, with an informal meeting planned for 11:30 a.m. on June 10 at the dog run.

He says improvements to the site can’t come soon enough, given the neighborhood’s ever-growing population.

“There’s so many buildings going up that I can imagine the dog population—as high as it is now—can double in at least six years,” Sowell said.

He added: “This has to be a community effort.”

Photo: Richard Sowell

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31 Comments

Richard

I wanted to tie up some lose ends on the article in the LIC Post about the conditions at the Murray Park Dog Run which went online May 17th 2018. First I want to point out that most of my replies were not tied to the respondent’s replies which I was answering to. When I spoke about cars I was not being sarcastic. I do know the importance of roads. It is said that it was the road system that Rome built in its empire that helped Rome to rule and hold that empire together. As a cyclist I love a freshly black topped road. We cannot do this ourselves and get this done correctly. When I first wrote to parks I asked for help in understanding what we needed to do to effect change. I asked for direction and gave a brief view of some options available. As a community of dog owners and dog lovers we need to be united in the direction we want to take this and it is up to people like Mr Von Bramer and Cathy Nolan to help us get there if they so choose. I will write about our options and try to rally our voices together. Yes societies need roads to function, and as in any area of life we should be able to express our expectations and hopes and try to find solutions and answers. People and animals need a place to remove themselves from the bustle of an intense city experience and find peace, quiet and a little solitude, even if that solitude is surrounded by streets and people carrying on with their lives, lives that can be either simplistic or complex. I do value the impact of concerned people getting together to find solutions and if you read what I have written you will see this to be true. I have from the beginning have seen this as a community action. In this situation we have a dog run that could be a great place for dogs. As it stands right now dogs become injured while playing here and it is very dirty. The glass and rocks we see are only the surface artifacts. As the dirt erodes more glass will most likely be revealed, and who knows how deep the rocks go that are not seen yet. We can work at this together but even as a group we cannot do this alone.
There are a number of dog parks, and Mr Von Bramer has had a hand in these. The distance between the parks is not small. For the buildings in the Court Square area such as the Hayden and Linc building and the two towers at the old 5 Points location and buildings yet to be built and/or completed, the dog run at Murray Park is essential, and I know that the management at the Hayden and Linc buildings agree on this. In fact the management at the Hayden sent information about the location of the Murray Park dog run to all of its residents with a map attached. All of these buildings had established themselves as dog friendly but the Murray Park Dog Run was not extablished or completed to reflect this ideal. This area is seeing and will continue to see a strong increase in the dog population, and they need a place to run and have fun.
Now Center Blvd is a bit of a hike when you consider the time it takes to get there. The Pier that allows dogs is nice but it is not a dog run. It is not enclosed and dogs may get splinters if they were to run full tilt and play hard.
As for a small dog run at Murray Park, this is something that Min would like to see and I fully support her in this.
As for the Vernon Ave Dog Run being next to slice, well, I think that this is the best dog run in its size. You should see dogs play there. When a group of dogs get to running hard it is quite a sight. They love it. This is the best park to take your dog to if you want your pup to have a great workout. The Dog Whisperer says that if you want to show your dog love, give it exercise.
Again, as far as figuring this out for ourselves, well, this is why we are having this discussion. I asked the City for direction. And to prove this I will include the letter I wrote to Parks that helped to elevate our concerns.
Also there are people who have been involved for years in improving this dog run at Murray Park. Min Chen and John and their friends have put a good deal of time and money into the park. This is their back yard in a sense. They should be honored for all their effort. They are central to the local community and have made it a place to welcome people who live in the area. A place to meet and make friends. Min was instrumental in getting a second gate put in and a water source installed. She and her friends brought in nice lawn furniture, which was stolen. So the solution was to spray paint the chairs that are there now.
Just to add here, in 2014 when the park was redone the dog park was under consideration to have a new top put on. Council members wanted to improve the dog run and make it an integral part of the Murray Park complex. There was a great deal of disagreement as to what type of top to put on. The disagreement was volatile enough that the end result was that the surface of the dog park was not changed. So we need a respectful consensus. If you want to be part of that consensus add your voice to all of us who care to make a positive change. Please sign the petition.
Tinyurl.com/murrayparkdogrun
And if you have any helpful and positive suggestions email us at [email protected] and visit our informational facebook page at http://www.bit.ly/2kyvT3h
The site of the Murray Park Dog Run used to literally be a dump from what I am told. So what exists now is a great improvement from that. But when you look at the whole of Murray Park and look at the dog run, there is a discrepancy a dissonance. The dog park does not fit with the rest of the park and it is an eyesore, as well as dirty and filled with sharp rocks and steel sticks out of the ground in one spot. That is not the fault of Parks. It is not the fault of Mr. Von Bramer. It is not the result of bad planning on the part of the team who revitalized the rest of the park. The dog run is incongruent with the result of the improvements established in the rest of the Murray Park grounds because people could not agree. This dog run needs help. Min and John have done all they could with buying things to make the park a nicer place. Min has attended and continues to attend meetings with Mr Von Bramer, and she attends seminars to learn more about managing the dog run and meetings with other officials in order to further her efforts to make the dog run a better, cleaner and safer place for dogs to play and people to socialize. We owe thanks for their efforts. For Min and John they have an extended network of friends in the community due to the dog run. It is a place to hang out and relax. To be at peace. Solitude, community and friendship in an open space.




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Richard

I have heard of a few dogs becoming ill after being in the dog run. Also there have been a number of instances of dogs injuring their paws and having cut pads on their paws from running in the dog run.
All that being said. It is not up to me or anyone individual who takes their dog to the park as to how the park will be fixed. Some people want the dirt and stones to remain. Some people feel strongly about covering the dog run with Pet Astro Turf. It seems that no one wants cement because that surface can cause the pads on dog’s paws to bleed. Some people like the idea of pebbles because Pebbles drain well . There is also asphalt, but asphalt may tend to break up after time due to weathering from the changes of the season from cold to hot causing the asphalt to crack over time. There needs to be a consensus from people who live in the area with the approval of the NYC Parks system. So at some point after getting people to sign the petition we will need to vote as to what we would like to do. If you have any questions sent them to [email protected].
Also there will be a new facebook page dedicated to information. It will not be an interactive facebook page. This will only post what is going on and be a place to list the pros and cons of the various options that we have to choose from. That facebook page will be the Court Square Murray Park Dog Run.




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Cody’s Mom

Please also link any updates on the new “informational” Facebook page to the original Friends of the Murray Dog Run page. We already have a good supportive base of members that have been active since 2011. We were instrumental in getting Bigger Bird removed, a new fence and double gate and a water source. Excited to see more changes happen and look forward to the meeting on June 10!




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MRLIC

Murray Park restrooms for Men and Women are out of service I heard. Fix them and then the dog run. Humans need comfort too.




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BM

The women restroom is working perfectly fine. But there is not soap; we can start a separate petition for that matter.




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MRLIC

How about fixing the bathrooms Mens room and Ladies Room. A friend told me both are out of service at Murray Playground. Dogs are fine but people need comfort stations also.




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Richard

I think that saying we can fix this ourselves is a cheap answer. Now I am not a fan of cars. So with that logic I could say that people who live in Long Island City should buy pick axes and shovels and do a fund raiser and rent equipment to heat asphalt and get out their and fix the streets themselves. It is quality of life. Why cheapen the experience of living or give away to populist rhetoric just for the sake of argument.




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Anonymous

The difference is that New York needs streets to function. It does not need dog runs. They are extra amenities provided to neighborhoods. I think you undervalue the impact of concerned people getting together and finding solutions to serve them. New York has far more critical needs than providing dog runs in high-income neighborhoods.




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Anonymous

I like dogs but there are quite a few dog parks/dog runs here, most are new and cost a lot, yet dog owners still complain. They have an entire pier at gantry park, 5 large public dog parks in vicinity, multiple private, and pretty much the entire grass area by the Pepsi sign and the large field by Coffeed (both suppose to be dog free) have become unofficial open dog runs. If the park is so bad you have options until it can be improved.




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Anonymous

Wrong, dogs are not allowed on any of those grassy areas. There are also not permitted on the piers. They are also not permitted in gantry state park, they are permitted only in hunters park south. Get your facts right.




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Anonymous

Wrong. Pier 1, which is the largest pier, allows dogs. The state park allows dogs in the northern most part (the gravel path) and along the southern section between the city section and the library. Read the signs and/or ask the state parks workers. Your need to get your facts straight. Now as for the grassy areas, no dogs, as I stated however it’s not enforced and has become basically a dog park.




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Brian

Richard, this is Brian & Amanda. Great stuff. Question, what about a SMALL DOG AREA. I would say 50% of the dogs do not go there because its the big dog park.




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Richard

I think that dividing the dog run would make it altogether too small. With knowledge of how many buildings were going up I think that the city planners would have served the community better if they had enlarged the dog run to accommodate the growing need of a dramatically increased dog population. I read years ago how apartment complexes were going ‘very’ dog friendly. But that friendliness did not translate into planning for the increase in dogs that the friendliness would inspire. I myself feel that the city should look at un-utilized space that is in the area that could be turned into good dog runs. I know of one place very close to Queens Plaza that I think could help give room to run for the growing dog population. I wish that the dog park at Murray Park could be expanded. So far from what i have seen the larger dogs are well behaved. The owners seem to take responsibility for their dog’s behavior. Yet I do understand the concern for smaller dogs and the need for more space to accommodate them.




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Richard

One solution for smaller dogs would be to expand the dog run at Murray Park. This would cost of course but could be included in the improvement of the current dog run. I would suggest moving the fence a few yards to bump up against the toddler swing set area, and/or the swing set could be moved a few yards away from the dog park to make room for the expansion. There is plenty of room for the toddler swing set to be moved and that would create a sizable space to add to the dog run. In understanding that the dog run is really too small now, and in consideration of the large increase in human and dog population, and the increase in tax revenue that the increased population would bring, I think it would be prudent to consider this.




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Cody's Mom

This article is incorrect. There were many improvements made when the rest of the park was renovated. There used to be a huge statue in the middle of the park and they redid the fence and put in a water source. The surface absolutely needs to be redone, as well as the entry gate and perhaps put in some kind of shade source. I’ve been going there for 11 years and our community has advocated in the past for improvements and got them. We also support each other in many other ways. This is a community effort. We have a Facebook Group called Friends of the Murray Dog Run that has been been quite effective in this community building and advocacy. Everyone who uses this run should join.




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Richard

Good governance is people coming together to solve problems. There are multi-million dollar being built and that have been built that are supposed to give back to the community and this from what I understand is by law. I may be wrong but the City just passed a measure that will allow the owners or these building to have more tax free years. I will try to get more info on this. Good governance is people in action. But is it often leaders who obfuscate and throw in obstacles or give information and conclusions that are not honest.




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Richard

Sorry for the incomplete statement. What I meant to say was that there are multi-million dollar apartment complexes being built, and that have been built and that are planned for. Green spaces and parks for people and dogs need to be given consideration. It seems that for each building going up space for common use in the way of more park space should be an important consideration. This should not be just added park space at the water front. Court Sq needs more park space for people and dogs.




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Richard

Mulch is ineffective. We are looking for a permanent solution. If mulch was used, being biodegradable, it would need to be reapplied time and time again and also it would easily be moved aside by the action of dogs playing and running and people walking in the dog run and playing with their dogs. So the dirt and rocks would be exposed again and the urine and feces in the dust would continue to be a problem. Also there is a large swing set right next to the dog run. So the toddlers and their parents and nannys are also breathing in the urine and feces that is part of the dirt and mud on that dog park. The dog park needs drainage. You would not want your children playing in an area that is totally unsanitary, so why should your beloved pets and the people who love their pets have to breath in that unsanitary brew. Dogs are a big part of many many families. These families love their pets. It is sad and discouraging to have a dog run that is so filthy, and unsanitary and rocky, especially in an area that has so much wealth. The rocks cut the pads of the dogs and it is easy to trip over them. So not only are the dogs injured because of the conditions but there is a potential of injury from people tripping over the sizeable rocks and iron that protrudes from the ground. This is not acceptable. I think that dog parent residents should have a fairly clean and safe place where their dogs can run and play and have fun and be enjoyed by their owners. We are not looking for millions of dollars for repairs. We are just trying to fix what was neglected by City Council. I wonder if the person who wrote this comment has a dog. I doubt it. Dogs are amazing creatures. They are family. They have been a part of the family of man for thousands of years. The park is an eyesore. It is unhealthy. Mr Brammer should lead in this as he has in other areas of concern.




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LIC Neighbor

I do own a dog, I also own a house with a front, side and backyard in LIC and have used pine nuggets and pine bark mulch on my property holds up well for years. If you put down a tarp barrier in the dog run, garden staple it down, dump 20 yards of pine bark mulch, bolt several park benches and if you want shade plant a tree. The city has free tree giveaways pick up a few and plant them in the dog run, fence them in, you’ll have plenty of shade in two year. You’ll all have the coolest dog run in the city. Easy the on the Paws.You can always replenish the fill in mulch in the spring. You are looking for the city to build it for you, maybe concrete or asphalt tough on the paws in the hot summer. If city does it and by the time CB2 appropriates the money it will be too late for some of the dogs as anything the city does will take years to build.




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[email protected]

You can’t even sit on the back patio at Slice because there is so much dust from the dog park. That spot should be a shady park for humans with flowers and trees and benches and a fountain. I am not against dog parks. I just think that spot on the main commercial strip should be for humans. Maybe when they make this new bridge they can plan for a new dog park with water access.




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Anonymous

You are talking about the wrong Dog Park. This article is about the dog run at Murray park. Not the one on Vernon




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Xixi Ling

My dog got sickened when she played at Murray Dog park. For a dog owner, it’s very upset that we do not have a good dog park near the building. Murray dog run’s redevelopment will be very beneficial for many dogs and dog owners.




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LIC Resident

I wrote a letter to Councilman Van Bramer about the poor condition of this dog park a couple years ago. His office’s response was that they conducted an inspection of the site and concluded that it was in satisfactory condition. Smh. I’m really glad that this petition was started. I fully support it.




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LIC Neighbor

No need to spend several million dollars on repairs, just have the parks department dump some of the Christmas tree mulch they collected throughout the boroughs in January and bolt four or five park benches and problem solved, no need to an expensive feasibility study, input from several committees and the community board. If not just start a collection and purchase 20 yards of pine bark mulch, several volunteers with shovels and rakes and get it done and fix it up yourselves….




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Anonymous

People need to start figuring out how to solve problems themselves. Form a community group of dog owners, raise a few dollars from each owner and from fund raising, and do the repairs yourselves, as you suggest. Reliance on the city to swoop in and fix every single problem that emerges just isn’t going to happen.




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