A group of residents in the South Bronx are trying to create a dog run in Crotona Park.
In the fall of 2021, residents formed the Crotona Park Community Dog Run group, which represents “people and their dogs coming together to cultivate a space for positive interactions through socialization, exercise and group play. We promote responsible dog ownership through community involvement and safe interaction.”
Large, fenced-in areas for dogs to exercise unleashed during park hours, dog runs improve community engagement because people congregate regularly in a recreational space.
Currently, residents in the Crotona Park area have to leave the neighborhood to access dog runs in other locations, such as the Soundview Dog Run, which is a 30-minute walk.
Dogs are allowed off leash in some areas of Crotona Park, but only from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m.
In March, the group submitted three possible sites for a dog run in Crotona Park to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. In response, the parks department accepted one of the locations and also found another area in the park that could fit the bill. On Thursday, May 5, residents and parks department officials plan to walk through the proposed sites, but funding from elected officials will be needed for the dog run to become an actual reality.
“As our community continues to grapple with the uncertainty of this time which has been further exacerbated due to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of resources, and the drastic wealth inequality between our city neighborhoods, we look to you for support,” the Crotona Park Community Dog Run said in a statement. “Our community of pet parents want more for our family. We want a space that is designated just for them to meet, socialize and play with each other. We love our pets, are responsible, and will do what it takes to provide them with the best.”
According to the American Kennel Club, having a dog run benefits many people by aiding with exercise, stress management and socialization amongst community members.
Community Dog Run members Marisol Duran, Rosalinda Alvira and Angie Perez said they have the support of Community Board 3, Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, first deputy commissioner of the city Department of Parks and Recreation and Joseph Sanchez, also of the parks department.
While Crotona Park sits within the district of City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, many parkgoers and dog run supporters live in the neighboring district of City Councilmember Althea Stevens. Therefore, proponents of the plan are hoping for support from both elected officials.
Salamanca, however, said he would only give a letter of support for the idea once he sees the parks department approve the project, and Steven’s office told the group that she wouldn’t be funding the proposal since the dog run is not in her district.
Repeated attempts to reach Salamanca and Stevens for comment were unsuccessful.
To create the dog run area, funding is needed from at least one lawmaker. The dog run members that the Bronx Times spoke with are hoping that monies will be allocated for the dog run in the upcoming NYC Council budget, which must be adopted before July 1.
“If we get the funding that would be great, but I don’t see that happening,” Duran told the Bronx Times. “Why not make an investment that can help.”
Alvira shared her concerns. “We have a space, but where is the money coming from?” Alvira said. “It’s kind of frustrating when it comes to the politicians.”
Alvira, who has a dog named Roxy, said the group has been meeting every Sunday morning in the park since last year.
“We want this to happen,” she said. “We don’t want to go far away. It’s important for dogs to have freedom and roam free. We have these four-legged beings who have given us joy and we want to give that joy back to our dogs.”
In February, they launched a GoFundMe for the dog run, which has raised more than $1,200 so far.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes