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West Village Pet Owners Howling Over Loss of Lights at Dog Run

By Andrea Swalec | March 20, 2013 8:41am

MANHATTAN — Nearly five months have passed since the Hudson River surged toward the West Village during Hurricane Sandy, but West Side dog owners say they're still reeling from the effects of the storm.

With all of the Hudson River Park still closing at dusk because of severe damage to its lighting system, West Village dog owners say they're scrambling for a nightly alternative to the popular Leroy Street Dog Run, located just north of Pier 40.

Local groups the Dog Owners Action Committee, which has about 400 members, and the Leroy Dog Run Association, with 200 members, are asking the Hudson River Park Trust to restore nighttime lights at the dog run as soon as possible, member Lynn Pacifico said.

Before the storm, the lights illuminated the dog run until 1 a.m. Now, with the Trust shutting the entire park at dusk, the pet play area is off-limits after sunset.

Pacifico, a longtime Greenwich Street resident, said she spends three hours a day trying to give her energetic, 50-pound black Labrador Retriever, Pax, the exercise he would usually get at the dog run.

"Do you know how much organizing it takes to get a dog tired who has twice as much energy I do? I've canceled all my usual activities," the jewelry designer and retired alternative medicine provider said. 

The Trust, which manages the 5-mile park that runs along Manhattan's West Side waterfront from Battery Park to West 59th Street, expects power to start being restored to the park beginning in May, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Work being bid out to contractors will replace all electrical cables in the park, which were submerged under saltwater when Sandy hit on Oct. 29, the Trust spokeswoman said.

But Pacifico, who fought for the dog run when the park opened in 2003, said going without use of the space after dark until May is too long. She asked whether the Trust could point a temporary light into the space, similar to what the NYPD has used to illuminate sections of Christopher Street.

"All we need is one light," she said.

The next nearest dog run for West Village residents is located inside Washington Square Park.