Woodlawn dedicates dog run in Van Cortlandt Park

Community leaders and enthusiastic dog owners join Councilman Andy Cohen (fourth from l.) and NYC Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver (fifth from l.) as they cut the ribbon.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Dog owners and their beloved pets now have a new place to run and play.

The NYC Parks Department dedicated a dog run for four-legged friends and their owners in Van Cortlandt Park on Tuesday, July 24, just footsteps away from the Woodlawn community.

The $500,000 in capital improvements also included improvements to the eastern end of the John Muir Trail for hiking, which begins where the dog run is located at Van Cortlandt Park East and Oneida Avenue.

There was previously a smaller, temporary dog run at the location, and the new permanent one is larger with more greenery, benches, boulders, a waste bag dispenser and a waste basket, stated a Parks Department spokeswoman.

Councilman Andy Cohen was heavily involved in advocating for the project, according to sources.

“This has been an area of the park where dog owners would let their dogs run ‘illegally,’” said Cohen. “But after many years of community input and careful planning, the dogs of Woodlawn will now have their own space to thoroughly enjoy one of the greatest parks in the city.”

The councilman allocated $400,000 to the project, and the mayor’s office provided an additional $100,000.

Parks made use of some of the cleared trees as mulch in repairs to the hiking trail.

The origins of the project date back to community activism seven or eight years ago, said George Torres, CB 12 district manager.

There had been some concern because the site is near a location of importance to the history of Native American peoples, and extra care was taken to make sure nothing was disturbed, explained the district manager.

Kenneth Nugent, Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association president, said that the organization supported the dog run, and that the area was tested twice to make sure no remains of the Stockbridge Indian Massacre from 1778 were disturbed.

Kathleen Corrigan, the organization’s first vice president, who started advocating for a permanent dog run in 2009, said that the project really gained momentum under Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa.

She said that one of the good things about the dog run is that it is right off the street, with no one having to go deep into the park’s wooded areas.

Corrigan was also pleased that spaces were included for both larger and smaller dogs.

“It was a long time, but it was nice to see if finally come to fruition,” said Corrigan.

Christina Taylor, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park executive director said roughly eight years ago the organization received a grant that involved surveying communities adjacent to the park about what they would like to see, and a dog run was a priority for Woodlawn back then.

Much more important to FVCP’s mission are the natural areas of the parks, and she said she was glad to see improvements to the eastern end of the trail near the run as part of this project.

“There was an issue with a lot of erosion and run off (on the trail)…so it was difficult for people to walk on,” she said of the eastern end of the Muir trail. “They put in some check steps and then filled in the area so it now has a nice even surface for people to walk on.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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