Grassy goal: Locals demand Bridge Park replace dog run’s stony surface with turf

Dream team: Sandy Balboza and her dog Bodie want the Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos to install artifical dog grass at the Pier 6 dog run so the pooches can play in comfort.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Life is ruff for these dogs!

The gravel at the Pier 6 dog run in Brooklyn Bridge Park is ruining pooches’ playtime because it so uncomfortable to frolic on, according to local canine owners, who are demanding the park replace it with a pricey artificial grass made especially for four-legged furballs.

“There’s an opportunity to put in a material that’s safe for pets,” said Sandy Balboza, who sits on the park’s volunteer Community Advisory Council and is the mother of 5-year-old poodle-mix Bodie. “There are a lot of dogs who don’t like to walk on the gravel so they don’t come here, and some of them who do come might sit up on the concrete and not play.”

The play pen is currently covered in a material called “pea gravel,” which gets stuck between dogs’ claws, can harbor bacteria and mold, and becomes very muddy when wet, according to Balboza. To make matters worse, the lining under the run is torn and now sharp stones are making their way into the mix and cutting the pups’ paw pads, she said.

Bodie steers clear when it gets muddy, but some dogs refuse to run on the uneven surface at all and stick to a narrow paved area encircling the pooch park, another human said.

“She would rather run laps around the outside on the concrete rather than be on the gravel,” said Downtowner Stephanie Rodriguez of her 2-year-old mixed-breed Thea, who she brings to the park when she plays volleyball. “It’s not comfortable for her.”

Park honchos asked Balboza and 11 others to come up with a report last year suggesting a replacement surface, and Balboza has since collected 200 signatures supporting a special dog turf called K9 Grass. But the bigwigs rejected the idea, saying the sod hasn’t been proven at other public parks in the city and it would be a pain to maintain, anyway.

“It has no track record in highly-trafficked public dog runs in New York City, and its maintenance requirements are extremely labor intensive,” said park spokeswoman Belinda Cape, adding that the park instead intends to just replace the dog run’s lining and then pour more pea gravel on top.

But those who have used the dog grass say it is actually very easy to care for once it is in.

“We love it — it requires very little maintenance and it’s very durable,” said Sean O’Rourke, who is the president of Friends of Schuylkill River Park in Philadelphia, which installed K9 Grass five years ago. “I don’t know how someone can say there’s any maintenance involved.”

K9 Grass costs around $14–$19 per square foot, according to Susan Fox of New York synthetic grass company Tech Grass, though she says she would cover the entire dog run with it for a neighborly rate of around $79,800. Meanwhile, half a cubic foot of pea gravel, or around half a milk crate’s worth, costs $4.27 from Home Depot.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill) has joined Balboza’s side of the artificial turf war and says he told park officials they should at least explore the idea.

“At the very least it deserves to be looked at thoroughly,” said Levin, who sits on the Brooklyn Bridge Park board. “We want the best possible experience for dogs and their people.”

The dog run is located right next to luxury condo building One Brooklyn Bridge Park and the site of two forthcoming Pier 6 apartment towers. Cape wouldn’t say whether the dog run will remain open during the construction.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to clarify park's comments.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Kirsty from Brooklyn Heights says:
This is an outrage! my precious little schnauser, Toodles, scraped her little bottom along these oh-so-rough stones! She had second dergee butt-burn and had to wear a theraputic diaper for a month! And who's fault is that???
Oct. 12, 2016, 4:42 am
MPIERCE from brooklyn heights says:
Good luck Sandy and Bodie. You're
barking up the wrong tree if you're
counting on Levin to assist in this
project. He has already failed constituents
on the Brooklyn Heights Library sale.
With the 141 Willoughby Street issue waiting
for his input.
Taking a big bite out of important public
issues is not his forte.
Oct. 12, 2016, 9 am
Winnie Doods from Brooklyn Heights says:
MPIERCE - you're really wrong there. Levin has promised to shred all the books and use the fluffy paper as softener for the delicate paws.
The real question is why do you hate him?
Oct. 12, 2016, 10:41 am
two words from my lips to your ears says:
participatory budgeting
Oct. 12, 2016, 11:09 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I know that I'm probably a little late to the party here, but if you don't mind my reminding you that Mr. Levin is a cat man - through and through.
Having said this and assuming you didn't mind (thanks for that) I did hear (from another reliable source) that using cat litter (Fresh Step brand) to fill in the cracks and soften the blows for these K9's is being spoken of this very day. When I have more on this matter, I shall report on it. What worries a man such as myself (John Wasserman) is that these grounds will only attract more animals of the feline persuasion, should this law come into effect. Enjoy the day, please.
John Wasserman
Oct. 12, 2016, 11:34 am
Jasper from Prospect Heights says:
I don't understand people who have pets, yet don't feel empathy towards the natural environment.

Besides, most City Parks don't have square feet designated just for dogs. It's totally crazy! Instead, they've allotted hours for leashless gallivanting.
Oct. 12, 2016, 12:03 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
That one is a total shiit hole. You stand on those stones and you sink right into the ground. No shade, noisy from the BQE. It sucks all around.
Oct. 12, 2016, 12:08 pm
Failures are just not lovable.
Participatory budgeting turned down
by Brooklyn Public Library 3 years ago.
Must have gone in one ear and out the
Oct. 12, 2016, 12:34 pm
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
Thank you Sandy for doing the excellent research here and your advocacy for dogs. In addition to the hundreds of signatures you obtained, there is a petition "Pier 6 Dog Run " with almost 200 additional signatures. And even more testimonials. There is a large increase in dog ownership in NYC today. Dogs should have adequate places to play too. This long planned park feature has been badly managed and as predicted may now be in danger of going away when more housing in the park comes in.
Oct. 12, 2016, 4:35 pm
Frankenstein's ok w me says:
The BPL sale made sense
Oct. 12, 2016, 6:39 pm
Cindy McDonaugh says:
Judi, these dogs have no place being in the apartments they live in. It's not good for them, nor the neighbors who have to deal with sound and smell. No dog park will un-do the fact that the owners are selfish and ignore what's best for the animals they claim to "love".
Oct. 12, 2016, 7 pm
Better yet, the BPL sale made dollars
and cents. Just not for tax payers.
Oct. 12, 2016, 8:35 pm
Susan Williams Pooter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Why is there a dog park but no cat park? I have no pets, but I find this discriminatory and offensive. Also, I smell a lawsuit from the cats against these people in the article.
Oct. 13, 2016, 7:05 am
Gillian from Brooklyn Heights says:
Given that we're running out of room, better to nature the sentiment that dogs can supplement the need for a child. Or is someone suggesting admission to such designated areas be charged?
Oct. 13, 2016, 10:59 am
Gillian from Brooklyn Heights says:
Oct. 13, 2016, 11 am
Stephane from Williamsburg says:
Neuter. Fancy dog people typically are already conscious of their breeding habits. I agree though, with the idea of doing away with dog runs entirely. Let 'em romp about, during downtime.
Oct. 13, 2016, 2:13 pm
Michael says:
Gillian - the birth rate is so low that we are below replacement. I don't think that using a dog a substitue for the true love that a family and children provide is actually satisfying. It is like using a prostitute as a substitute for sexual intimacy (remeber that you buy a dog). Plus you are loving something that will die after a decade, as opposed to a life long love. You will always be superior to a dog, as opposed to children who will grow and learn from your nurture. The relationship with an animal feeds your ego because they worship you, a child challenges and questions you and develops your life in a way that nothing else can. Also there is no reason to believe that dogs are enviornmentally friendly. Their food is meat-based, they kill small animals, their toys and bowls are made of plastic, and their owners consume more to care for them.
Oct. 14, 2016, 3:49 am
marsha rimler from brooklyn heights says:
great job Sandy
Keep at it
Oct. 15, 2016, 9 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: