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Bushwick Canine Owners Rejoice at Dog Run's Opening in Maria Hernandez Park

By Meredith Hoffman | November 21, 2012 7:42am

BUSHWICK — When Isabel Reyes searched for a new apartment this July, one crucial factor prompted the dog-lover's decision.

"The person we rented from told us there would be a dog run," Reyes, 21, said from the newly unveiled puppy playground in Maria Hernandez Park. "It determined my moving here."

Reyes and other Bushwick residents, along with their canine counterparts, packed the fenced-off space Tuesday afternoon — and many said they moved to the neighborhood specifically for the dog run, which Parks Department workers opened last week, according to the blog Bushwick Daily. 

"It's great that it's open...this is why I moved here instead of further out in Bushwick," said Mark Kay, who moved into the area in July with his shepherd mix puppy Eden. "We'd been just walking in the neighborhood on the street."

Kyle Stein, 25, who watched his rat terrier Stitch frolic under the run's benches, said they had been trekking 30 or 45 minutes to Williamsburg for canine recreation at Cooper or McCarren Parks.

"He's happy, as long as he's around other dogs," Stein said of Stitch.

Some residents said they expected the run to open sooner, but Parks Department representatives noted that they had projected the facility's completion date as November of this year.

"The project includes excavation and drainage work, installation of new pavement, curbs, and fencing, and the installation of new furnishings, such as benches, trash receptacles and doggie drinking fountains," a Parks spokeswoman wrote earlier this year.

The run — in a burgeoning area of Bushwick that has attracted an increasing number of new residents with cafes, organic grocers, art studios and bars — seemed void of longtime area residents Tuesday afternoon.

But Reyes, who has visited the spot almost daily at lunchtime or in the evening, said she's encountered a mix of dog owners on her jaunts.

"Everyone comes here," she said.