FLATIRON — Madison Square Park's aging dog run needs an overhaul, and the group that manages the park is asking local dog owners to pitch in.
The Madison Square Park Conservancy is trying to raise $5,000 by the end of the month to revamp Jemmy's Run, a 13-year-old play space for dogs, said Keats Myer, the conservancy's executive director. Planned improvements include replacing the gravel, which has been worn down into a fine dust that turns into muddy puddles when it rains.
“As a dog owner myself, this is an important part of our community,” Myer said.
The conservancy has always fundraised for the park's general needs, but this is the first time the group has targeted the dog run specifically. The fundraising campaign launched in late March with notices posted in the run and on the conservancy’s website, but as of Friday afternoon only $1,500 had been raised, Myer said.
In addition to replacing the gravel, which hasn't been done in three years, the money would go toward repairing a broken bench in the run, which is missing planks and is covered in caution tape.
Some dog run users said they looked forward to seeing changes.
"I like this dog run, but I hate the gravel," said Ryan Lehrer, 29, a Flatiron resident who brought his black lab to the run on Friday afternoon. "It's messy and dirty. There's no drainage, so it just becomes this lake of s--- in the winter."
After the fundraising campaign ends this week, Myer hopes to convince a group of regular dog run users to form an organization that helps take care of the space, as they had several years ago before the group gradually disbanded. The conservancy takes out the garbage, but it's up to dog owners to provide extras like small bags for waste.
“When users group together to take care of the park and tells us what’s needed, it enables us to do a better job," Myer said.
John Thomas, a 34-year-old Flatiron resident who has been going to the run with his English bulldog for the past two-and-a-half years, hopes to help form a new group of dog run users.
"We just want there to be a better sense of community," Thomas said. "Back when we had an advisory board for the run, some weekends people used to bring coffee and doughnuts for the other users. We want to bring that back."
Thomas also hopes that forming an organization will make it easier to raise money for the run.
"Right now, people are reluctant to give money, because they don't know where it's going or for what cause," he said. "Once we have an advisory board of some kind and a better idea of what we need, I think people will give."
Jemmy’s Run, which was first created during a major renovation of Madison Square Park in 2001, is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.