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Manhattan Bridge Dog Run Forced Out by Skate Park

By Julie Shapiro | March 20, 2012 6:42am
Lydia Beltran and her pit-lab mix, Roxey, will have to find a new place to play fetch once the Coleman Oval dog run closes temporarily.
Lydia Beltran and her pit-lab mix, Roxey, will have to find a new place to play fetch once the Coleman Oval dog run closes temporarily.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

LOWER EAST SIDE — A new skate park being built under the Manhattan Bridge could close down a neighboring dog run as soon as next month, upsetting local pet owners.

The city plans to expand the Coleman Oval skate park, at Pike and Monroe streets, into the space belonging to the dog run — with construction kicking off mid-April, officials revealed last week.

The city plans to open a new dog park somewhere nearby, but that likely won't be ready until the middle of the summer, officials said.

That means the neighborhood could be left without a dog run for several months, leaving some Lower East Side dog owners wondering how their pets will get the exercise they need.

"This is the only place she gets to run around without a leash," said Lydia Beltran, 63, who takes Roxey, her pit bull-lab mix, to the dog run twice a day.

"I'll have to walk her a little more," Beltran continued. "But when you have a big dog, she needs to run."

The renovations to Coleman Oval Park are part of a $350,000 GameChangers grant sponsored by Nike and Architecture for Humanity.

The grant will allow the Parks Department to tear down the crumbling, heavily used skate park and replace it with a new poured-concrete version designed by Steve Rodriguez, owner of 5boro skateboards, with input from other local skateboarders.

The design features street elements like ledges, ramps and planters, and the space could also host community events during off-hours, like nighttime movie screenings, said Chris Farnum, a Parks Department architect.

The Parks Department decided to incorporate the adjacent dog run into the new skate park both to give skaters more space and to give the dogs a nicer park of their own away from the skateboarders, Farnum said.

"It doesn't work so well [as] a dog run," Farnum told Community Board 3 last week. "You have skaters going by, scaring the dogs."

The city plans to begin construction on the new skate park by mid-April and finish about 10 weeks later, Farnum said.

However, it is unclear when the new dog run will open. The city is still deciding between several different locations within Coleman Oval Park, and the dog run design won't be finalized until at least next month, Farnum said.

"There could be a period when the skate park is done and the dog run is not finished yet," Farnum said. "The goal would be to start the dog run as soon as possible."

Alice Cancel, the Democratic district leader and Knickerbocker Village resident who fought to get the dog run created more than five years ago, is glad that it's finally being renovated. She had originally hoped for much more than just the current bare-bones asphalt lot dotted with a couple of trash cans.

"We wanted an area with trees, but nothing ever became a reality for us," said Cancel, whose cocker spaniel died several years ago before being able to use the dog run.

Still, Cancel said she is concerned about how local dog owners will exercise their pooches in the limbo time between when the current dog run closes and the new one opens.

"I'd be upset," she said on behalf of the dog owners.

Beltran, a Knickerbocker Village resident who has been bringing Roxey to the Coleman Oval dog run for the past four years, said she's worried about trying to bring Roxey to a different dog run because the playful pup doesn't always get along with unfamiliar dogs.

"She knows the dogs here because she grew up with them," Beltran said.