Dog Run an Oasis Amid Manhattan's Concrete Jungle
By Meredith Hoffman
HELL'S KITCHEN — Astro's dog run is proof that New Yorkers use any open space they can find.
"It's great for the dogs, but also a lot of the people socialize together," said Glenn Davish, 57, a freelance video producer who has brought his two beagle-mix dogs, Betty and Judy, to the park for the past year and a half.
"This place just keeps on growing. We all volunteer to keep it going," he added.
For keys to the gated space, each of the park's members pay an annual $25 maintenance fee.
Anyone with a dog license and proof of their pet's vaccinations can join, and members say they feel like part of a special club, holding birthday and holiday parties for people and dogs in the park.
"It's a little oasis in the middle of concrete," said Doris, 70, as her dog Marc ran in the triangular plaza Friday.
"You get used to the noise — this is New York," said Doris, who asked that her last name not be used.
Astro's Dog Run began in 1998, the idea of Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association member Graham Haber. The land, owned by Port Authority, is provided free of charge, according to the dog run's website.
The run was first named the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association Dog Run, but changed its name in 2003 to honor Haber's dog Astro, who died in 2001.
Interested dog owners can register at Community Board 4, 330 West 42nd St., 26th floor. A council of dog run members make decisions to maintain the park.
For Vivian Rosario, 37, and her daughter Veanne, 11, the place connects them to their neighborhood and helps keep their dog at ease.
"We just joined a week ago, we've come about four times," said Rosario. "Sookie was frightened at the public park by the Intrepid Museum, but here she's more comfortable," she said of her four-month-old Catahoula dog.