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Williamsburg Dog Run Proposed as Public Votes on How to Spend $1M

By Meredith Hoffman | March 27, 2013 7:30am

WILLIAMSBURG — Puppy owners fed up with "turf wars" over North Brooklyn's meager park space might soon have land to call their own on the Williamsburg waterfront.

A gated dog run with separate sections for small and large breeds, artificial turf and shade structures could be headed to East River State Park — as long as the vision wins the public's support.

The run is one of 16 projects vying for Brooklynites' votes in the 33rd District's first ever participatory budgeting process, in which residents choose how to spend $1 million capital funds. 

The run, which would cost more than $450,000, competes with other proposals including the renovation of P.S. 34's playground, upgrades to the Gowanus community center and district-wide tree planting.

Residents can vote for their top five projects, and the top three chosen will receive funding, Council Member Stephen Levin's staff said.

Supporters of the canine playland claim their plan would both reduce green space feuds and would offer a refuge for puppies and people alike.

"I was at the McCarren Park dog run this Saturday and it just gets too crowded," said dog owner Mark Sallinger, who helped conceive of the new dog run proposal. "It gets overwhelming...I lost track of how many dogs were there." 

And Alexandra Broenniman, who has also spearheaded the plan, said she had received remarkable support for the playspace.

"There's so little green space and the population has exploded in such a way that we have so many groups competing for these very scarce resources," said Broenniman of Friends of East River State Park.

"We thought this was an amazing opportunity to actually put a dog run in."

Broenniman said New York State officials had agreed to allow for the dog run in the state park if the group found funding. And she said the run would occupy the northeast corner of the park.

"It would transform an underutilized space in East River State Park," she said of the run. "It would have a double-gated entry system, separate areas for large and small dogs, artificial turf specially designed for dogs...and shade structures."

Residents can vote April 1 — 7, and the winning projects will be announced within one or two weeks of the vote, Levin's staff said. A detailed list of voting locations and projects can be found on Levin's website.