October 26, 2011 / Brooklyn news / Gowanus / Meadows of Shame

It’s man’s best friend vs. man’s own children in Gowanus playground fight

The Brooklyn Paper
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City planners will put toddlers ahead of pooches in a major Gowanus park renovation — and dog owners are barking mad.

The Gowanus Playground — a small, underused park in the middle of a public housing complex bound by Wyckoff, Bond and Hoyt streets — has snagged $550,000 in city cash for a makeover that includes new play equipment, a walkway and a “lush garden.”

“We want to increase the green and make it more inviting,” city architect Ilan Kutok told Community Board 6, which voted unanimously to support the plan with a few conditions last Wednesday. “Once the renovation happens, we expect it to get a lot more use.”

But the self-described “dog people” in the neighborhood now say the Parks Department — which drew up and presented a rendering without first getting feedback from residents — should instead rip out a rarely-used swing set to make way for a puppy play space.

“Dog walkers are out late at night and that can make the area safer and friendlier,” said neighbor Claire Angelica. “There’s a lot of support for it.”

She suggested the city remove the “bucket seat” swings for toddlers to accommodate the ultimate gated community: a “dog run” where pups can roam without leashes.

Several more friends of Rover echoed that idea in an e-mail chain wherein one neighbor gushed, “I would love to have a dog run there!”

But residents in the neighboring Gowanus Houses complex — where up until recently, pups were forbidden — have waited just as long for the city to fix up the less-than-welcoming cement park for their kids, saying low-income tots should take priority over pampered pooches.

Indeed, timing of the renovation is likely more than coincidence: As Gowanus blossoms from industrial to residential — and more families move in — some gentrifiers feel empowered to stake a claim over open space and urge authorities to fix up blighted areas.

The Parks Department notes it has “shared a desire to renovate [the park] for years” — but hadn’t had the funds until now. The funding, the agency said, is allocated based on “need” — a somewhat nebulous city term — in consultation with local elected officials.

The park is about the size of the farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza and has several net-less basketball basket hoops where teenagers and vagrants sometimes congregate. It also has more popular handball courts, rarely used slides and some spray showers.

After the renovation, kids will be able to scurry up “play rocks” — which are like mini boulders at a climbing gym — and play on a painted dolphin while parents picnic on new tables inside an “adult seating area.”

It all sounded fine to CB6 members, though the approval did come with a recommendation for city officials to meet with the residents to “look into” a dog run before beginning the renovation this summer.

“This park has always been terribly underused,” Angelica said, adding pooch people are champing at the bit. “Why not bring in the dog community?”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Resident from Boerum Hill says:
The reality of why the "park" is underused by neighborhood residents, is because it is part of the projects. The residents of the Gowanus Houses don't make neighborhood folks feel welcome and conversely residents are uneasy at that park -- which is essential some basketball courts and concrete in the projects.

I believe even with the revamp, it will be underutilized by neighborhood residents.
Oct. 26, 2011, 8:40 am
Dan from Downtown says:
A dog run is a great idea in theory but in reality it wont work. The only people who will ever use this park is residents of the Gowanus houses. No one from the wider community will be welcomed or safe to use the park (hell try to simply walk through along Warren St).
and if you make it a dog run then the Pit Bull lovers (haters) will turn it into a fighting/training ring (already done in certain grass spots in the project).

Best bet is to make it a nice playground so the kids living there can hopefully have a nice area to play.
Oct. 26, 2011, 9:49 am
Puppyist from Park Slope says:
A dog run in the Thomas Greene Playground (3rd ave & Warren St.) would make a lot more sense. It would be accessible to the Gowanus dog owners as well as the North Slope dog owners who are desperate for a dog run. There's little residential around the park so barking dogs would not anger residents and the park is woefully under-utilized.
Oct. 26, 2011, 10:41 am
NYCdog from NYC says:
Dog owners interested in creating a dog park in or near Gowanus Houses should get in touch with (New York Council of Dog Owner Groups).

We are an entirely volunteer group representing most of the dog park and off-leash groups throughout NYC.

Getting a dog park takes time, organization, and commitment. It is never easy, but wherever a dog park has been constructed, the community has responded favorably; even if they had originally opposed same.

Dog owners have to create a group that will self-maintain their dog park. This comes through commitment to responsble, respectful sharing of limited parklands in our great city.

NYCdog is on Facebook or at our website.
Oct. 26, 2011, 1:05 pm
The Lazy Dog Walker from Carroll Gardens,Cobble Hill, Red Hook,Gowanus says:
I'm a local dog walker around the hood (maybe you've seen my work) Anyway... I'm all for the dog run! If I can walk them to one location and let them run/walk around themselves then I can kick back and text my people.

Hey that's money in the bank!! Well, in the pocket!! Well, not for long cause I like beer...A LOT!!!
Oct. 26, 2011, 1:21 pm
Katrina from BK says:
What does "champing at the bit" mean? Why doesn't the BK Paper have a proofreader?
Oct. 26, 2011, 2:08 pm
Patrick Grant from East NY says:
Please Check out our Blog about this incredible Lady her name is Grandma Ellen. I feel that this story is hot because if you interview this woman and see the Radio station she built its incredible the shows the hosts wow !
Oct. 27, 2011, 6:34 am
goldie from gowanus says:
The park is full every day, i dont no where yall get thta info from
Oct. 31, 2011, 1:50 pm
Robby from Gowanus says:
How can you put a dog walk right next to a swing? This is a playground not a park.
Oct. 31, 2011, 1:52 pm
Robby from Gowanus says:
Angela i never saw you near the park
Oct. 31, 2011, 1:56 pm
jay from bed-stuy says:
"some gentrifiers feel empowered to stake a claim over open space and urge authorities to fix up blighted areas."

nice put, but this is why you are unwelcomed in the first place. you are not "empowered" to want anything. you are cool in ones. but this is what happens when its a "collective" quite frankly, minorities dont feel the same way "gentrifiers" do about animals. Our kids run in open space. we care more about human people. besides, who in the pj's wants to smell your dogs, poop, anyway? while you saunter back down the block with Fido. with gentrifiers and their dogs, comes increased police presence to protect YOU, at the expense of long term residents (stop & frisks) ect. let your dogs, run free on your roof tops. this is why we dont tolerate nor appreciate this in bed-stuy. we dont want an influx of dog runs, starbucks, bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, improvement districts, historic designation, bmx park, nothing.. this is where we live. we like it. you are visitors and new comers. we do the same when we move in your enclaves. some enjoy the lower taxes or move.. im sure the natives dont care either way
Nov. 10, 2011, 10:54 am

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