$500K Facelift for Dog Run Next to Natural History Museum Raises Eyebrows
UPPER WEST SIDE — An Upper West Side dog run could get a makeover with a pricetag so high it's left many shocked.
The half-million dollar facelift would bring new turf, fencing, lighting, sound barriers and a water playground for pups at the Bull Moose Dog Run, which sits inside Theodore Roosevelt Park next to the American Museum of Natural History at 81st Street.
Supporters propose raising the cash from public and private sources.
"Our neighborhood is a showpiece and the dog run is a blight," Bull Moose Dog Run board member Erin Porter said.
"It would be nice to bring the run up to the level of the museum and the neighborhood."
Dog owners said the run's dusty mix of gravel and dirt frequently floods and leaves smudges all over owner's clothes, as well as a foul smell. The uneven terrain is also dangerous to dogs and owners, they added.
"Our run has been neglected for so long," Porter said.
"We often leave with filthy, filthy dogs. We also walk away with lots of dust and dirt on our clothes."
Porter and her four fellow board members have proposed the installation of "commercial-grade canine grass," which would make Bull Moose the first dog run in the city to use it.
They're considering K9Grass, which can be pressure washed and sprayed with chemicals to dissolve waste.
The grass, which Porter said would also simplify waste pick-up and feels good on paws, would cost at least $250,000 and involve redoing the surface underneath the grass.
Parks Department Manager Ray Acosta projects the installation would cost even more.
After numerous noise complaints for years from neighbors, headed by the 81st Street Block Association, organizers of the dog run overhaul are also looking to invest in "some serious noise mitigation," costing roughly $100,000, Porter said.
Members of the public testified that sounds from the dog run bounce off the wall of the museum and are often "shockingly loud," according to one neighbor.
Additionally, $15,000 worth of new lighting is being proposed. Existing lights now "make it very difficult to see what’s going on and whether it’s safe and [hard] to pick up after your dog," Porter said.
New benches, a gate system with a better lock and a water play area are also on the group's wish list.
The final pricetag is estimated at $475,000.
After hearing the dog run's presentation this week, Community Board 7 member Evan Rosing expressed concern over the cost — particularly given the amount of public projects that are vying for public funds.
"We need to be even more protective with what we put our support behind," said Rosing.
"Maybe private funding comes first and then we pick up the slack with public funding."
Board Chairman Mark Diller agreed that public funding would probably not be feasible for covering the costs — both because of the magnitude and the purpose of the project.
"Some significant amount of funding you’re going to need will have to come from private funding," said Diller.
Member Ken Coughlin was concerned about the shelf life of K9Grass, which has a warranty of only nine years.
"I am concerned about putting public money into something that would only last 10 years," he said.
But, Coughlin said, he felt it was "pretty clear that this is kind of a community amenity."
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said she has supported dog runs in the past and would be amenable to helping Bull Moose, but that other neighborhood dog runs have had to do "a lot of their own fundraising."