By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The city has made a final decision not to allow dogs to run free on the lawn in Battery Park, Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro said this week.
Castro said the dogs and their waste would prevent other users from enjoying the large grassy space at Manhattan’s southern tip, which is scheduled to be renovated next summer.
"This is our position," Castro told Community Board 1 Monday night. "It’s not changing."
But Castro did offer a compromise for lower Manhattan dog owners: the creation of a temporary dog run on one of Battery Park’s asphalt paths. The city would provide movable barriers to mark off up to 6,250 square feet of pavement where dogs could run around every day from 6 to 9 a.m., Castro said.
"Ninety-nine percent of the other dog groups in the city would jump at this and have in the past," Castro said.
The Downtown Dog Owners Association, though, is not happy with the proposed solution. They have collected 800 signatures asking to exercise their dogs on the park’s lawn, as they did for years until the Parks Department started issuing $150 tickets and enforcing a long-ignored policy this summer.
The dog owners say asphalt tears up their puppies’ paws, and there is no substitute for running on a natural surface like grass.
"There’s a lot of exclusion going on here," said Kathleen Crum, a Battery Park City resident who owns a chow mix and a Doberman. "Dogs are a part of this community too."
Jeff Galloway, a Battery Park City dog owner and CB1 member, said he didn’t understand why the Parks Department allowed dogs to run off-leash on lawns in dozens of other parks around the city but would not do the same in Battery Park.
Castro replied that Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe had reviewed the request and determined the 23-acre park was too small to give the main lawn over to dogs.
However, he agreed to continue meeting with the Downtown Dog Owners Association and CB1 at State Sen. Daniel Squadron’s office. Their next meeting is Dec. 13.
Community Board 1 passed a resolution Tuesday night asking for an off-leash trial period in Battery Park on either the grass, the pavement, or some combination, so the effect on dogs and on the park could be determined.
At that meeting, Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, urged dog owners to except Castro’s compromise.
"[We] have the responsibility to balance all uses of the park," she said.