BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Astoria dog owners are barking for a place to bring their pets.
The recently-formed Astoria Dog Owners Association is leading the charge to construct a dog run in the neighborhood. According to the ADOA, despite a substantial number of dog owners in the community, options for off-leash exercise are limited.
“It would be good for the dogs, but it would also be really great for the people,” ADOA chair Bill Peloquin said. “[A dog run] really brings the community together.”
According to a 2012 Economic Development Corporation study, Astoria is one of the most heavily cat and dog-populated areas in the City. Without a proper dog run, Peloquin said, these dog owners are limited to off-leash hours at Astoria Park (before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.) or Bugsy’s Dog Run, a notoriously rundown waterfront site near Shore Boulevard and Astoria Park South, with no official maintenance.
After sifting through a number of possibilities, the ADOA identified Triborough Bridge Playgrounds C and D – under the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge at 24th Street and Hoyt Avenue – as its suggested spot for the dog run. Because this site is not part of Astoria Park, building a dog run there would not compromise that park’s off-leash hours.
An online ADOA petition for a dog run has garnered more than 600 signatures.
Richard Khuzami chairs Community Board 1’s parks committee and is also president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, which has agreed to sponsor the dog run and manage its maintenance alongside the ADOA.
“This is simply put a badly needed addition to our community, in order for it to reach its potential as one of the best neighborhoods in NYC,” Khuzami said.
The dog run proposal also has the support of Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria).
“I have been working with community members and with the Parks Department on this issue,” Constantinides said. “We all agree that there is a need for a dog run in Astoria and we are in the process of solidifying a site. We are looking into a number of potential sites that include Triborough C or D Playgrounds.”
Parks Dept. spokesperson Meghan Lalor indicated that the agency is open to the idea of an Astoria dog run.
“Parks would consider allowing a dog run in Astoria with the approval of the community board, and the presence of an organized community group that could maintain the dog run and enforce rules regarding its use,” Lalor said.
Community Board 1 has included a dog run in their capital requests.
“I feel like honestly, really the whole community is behind it,” Peloquin said.
Nevertheless, he urged patience throughout the process of securing City support and funding.
“We’re definitely still proactive and going out there,” Peloquin said. “But it could take a while.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.