By JON CRONIN
Dog parks in Queens are important for everyone, not just our furry little loyal companions.
EJ Sydell, a Kew Gardens resident and one of the founding members of the Forest Park Barking Lot, notes that for our dogs to be good canine citizens, “being off the leash is pretty important. It’s darn important.”
The Forest Park Barking Lot is a dog park that was created in 2015 in the Overlook section of Forest Park at the corner of Union Turnpike and Park Lane in Kew Gardens. Sydell said that she and several of her neighbors all bought puppies around the same time and banded together to petition the city to get a local dog park approved. After the renovation of the Overlook section of Forest Park in the spring of 2015, their dream became a reality.
She pointed out that at four months, puppies need to be socialized and meet other dogs.
“They also need to get their energy out,” she said.
In urban neighborhoods, residents often do not have a backyard for their dogs to run in an off-leash area, she added.
“They need a place where dogs can run and be social,” she said. “A tired dog is a good dog. Not everybody wants a breed that’s lazy.”
She noted that in the time since she and her husband picked up their Black Lab-Golden Retriever-Shepherd mix, they have gotten into better shape.
“Things happen at the dog park,” she said. “It’s nice community engagement that takes place there.”
Even several years after the opening of the dog park, Sydell said that her situation is still in flux. She added that she hopes a new design for the park will be approved by the city’s Parks Department and that permanent fencing will replace the temporary mesh fencing that is currently at the site.
“We’re still fighting to get what we need,” she said.
The new dog park will have an available water source for dogs as well as a separate area for smaller dogs. Councilman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) allocated $400,000 for upgrades at the park.
Sydell added that members of the dog park sent in recommendations on the design for the new dog park six months ago. While they await a reply, they continue to mend the temporary fences at the site on their own and bring water from Parks’ headquarters, located a few hundred feet away, and their own supplies, such as poop bags, to the park.
She said that the members of the dog park are performing maintenance at the site on their own and pointed out that in other cities, Parks employees are tasked with that job.
The Forest Park Barking Lot members are looking forward to a permanent structure for supplies and a cement walkway through the park to the dog park.
Sydell pointed out that the park recently hosted an event during which dogs were able to take a “canine good-citizen test.” The members invited a groomer, who painted the dogs’ nails and dyed their hair. They are hosting another event at the end of August.
She recommended that dogs begin the socialization process before they are taken to the dog park.