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.”
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.”