Parents Say Dog Run Near Queens School Would 'Distract' Kids

By Jeanmarie Evelly on July 24, 2013 6:59am 

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 Parents are opposing the idea of a dog park on 5th Street near 46th Road, near a new school building.
Parents Oppose Dog Run Near Hunters Point School
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LONG ISLAND CITY — These parents have a bone to pick with a proposed dog run in Hunters Point.

An idea to put the run next to a new elementary school in Hunters Point has drawn the ire of some residents, who are worried the barking pooches will distract kids from their studies.

The proposed dog park would sit on a small sliver of land off Fifth Street near 46th Road, between the Queens West Sports Field and a new school building, P.S. 312, which will open this fall as an expansion of the existing neighborhood elementary school P.S. 78.

"We have nothing against dogs, we have nothing against dog owners," said Kris Schrey, who runs the Long Island City Parents Group and has a son starting P.S. 78 this year. "It's just about this specific location."

He said parents are worried a dog run would lead to a proliferation of dog-doo around the school and the athletic field, the potential of kids getting bitten, or that children would rather stare out the window of the school and watch the frolicking pups than pay attention in class.

"Kids can get easily distracted when they should be studying and learning, and a dog run is a big distraction," he said.

The parents group has sent a letter the state parks department opposing the dog run, as has the school leadership team and the Parents Association at P.S. 78/312.

"There are issues of safety and disturbing the children throughout the entire school day,"  Leslie Costa, PTA co-president, said in an e-mail.

Queens West Development Corporation, which oversees the site, has not made any decisions yet on the dog run idea, which is being considered based on requests from residents who live nearby. Hunters Point has seen an influx of dog owners and their pets in recent years.

There is already a dog run in the neighborhood, on Vernon Boulevard and 48th Avenue, and another is set to open later this summer as part of the new park space at Hunters Point South.

"This is a dog-friendly neighborhood," said Julie McCullough, who was walking Molly, her German shepherd/boxer mix, near the school on a recent weekday.

She said she didn't see an issue with a dog run being near a school, adding local dog owners are good about curbing their pups.

"Everybody has bags, everybody picks up [after their dogs]," she said.

Schrey said parents have nothing against dog owners in general, and are just trying to avoid any potential conflicts.

"Most dog owners are good neighbors...[but] there are certain dog owners who just don't follow the rules," he said. "It's enough to cause problems."

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