After Eight-Year Effort, Bull Moose Dog Run Will be Ready by July, Parks Department Says

Gobi looking wistfully at Bull Moose Dog Run from outside the gate.

By Lisa Kava

It’s been quiet at a busy dog run that closed for renovations last summer — too quiet, some locals say. “Most days there is absolutely no work going on,” wrote one West Side Rag reader.

But don’t get too hot under the (dog) collar, the Parks Department says. The renovation of the Bull Moose Dog Run is underway and on schedule.

Located on 81st Street, beside the Museum of Natural History, the Bull Moose Dog Run (BMDR) is a well-loved gathering spot for a large community of dog owners and walkers, who enjoy the coffee and chitchat as much as watching their dogs romp around. It’s one of those communities that makes New York feel smaller and more homey. Owners have stayed loyal even though the place could feel neglected, flooding every time it rained hard, forming puddles verging on lakes.

Maggie, after playing at BMDR, circa 2017.

The effort to renovate the run began in the summer of 2011, when the Bull Moose Dog Run Community Association (BMDRCA) was formed to fix the “deplorable condition of the BMDR,” recalled community activist and member Elaine Boxer.

“We all rallied together for the purpose of resurfacing the dog run” said Jane Beal, president of the BMDRCA. “We had parties and fundraisers and endless meetings. It’s been nothing but frustration and disappointment ever since.”

There were obstacles to the project early on, including an initial lack of funding, and many details to accomplish — obtaining CB7’s approval, receiving cooperation from the Parks Department, hiring a design architect and a contractor — Boxer said. After many years, and with funding eventually provided by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, it seemed, in the summer of 2019, that the project was finally moving forward.

Updated schematic from Parks Dept (dated January 2020). Looking north.

Community members were excited, only to be disappointed again when, for four months, the project seemed to stall. Neighborhood residents and members of the BMDRCA who walked by the site daily reported there wasn’t a worker in sight. The dog owners were distraught.

“It’s as if you had a combined gym and coffee shop where you could play ball and hang out with your friends… and suddenly it was gone, allegedly for renovation,” said Dora and Noah Hanft, owners of a six-year-old labradoodle named Gobi. “And every day you’d walk by and the place was demolished with no sign of any work being done.”

Workers return.

But in early January workers finally reappeared at the BMDR and the Parks Department reported they are on schedule to complete the work by July 2020, as per a contract with the construction company.

A spokesperson from the Parks Department told West Side Rag that work did in fact take place during what many believed to be a four-month delay. During that period, the contractor was working on acquiring the dog run surface material. They also installed fencing and benches and worked to address drainage issues found after the site was excavated,” she explained. “Certain adjustments were necessary in response to site conditions.”

“The reconstruction of Bull Moose Dog Run has been a long haul — so I’m thrilled that construction is again underway,” said Gale Brewer.

“After years of delay, which resulted in ballooning costs, my constituents and I remain cautiously optimistic that construction on the Bull Moose Dog Run will actually be completed by July 2020. My office…will continue to advocate for its timely completion until the first dog sets its paws upon the run,” said Linda Rosenthal.

As thrilled as I am…I deeply wish it could have cost $500K less and been completed in 2013,” said Elaine Boxer. The cost of the run is projected to be $684,000. “The amount of effort, time and money it has taken to get the repairs prioritized and undertaken has been extreme and exhausting.”

The loss of BMDR has also affected dog walkers. “We are all anxiously awaiting the reopening of the dog run,” said Rebecca Barr, a neighborhood walker. “The loss of the dog run has been detrimental to the closeness of our community.

If all goes as planned, the BMDRCA will see an exciting end result by July a newly renovated dog run complete with improved surface, new benches and a working drainage system where the community of people and dogs can finally reconvene.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Ish Kabibble says:

      8 years? More like 100 years! LONG overdue renovations – can’t wait for my pup to enjoy!!

    2. Sue says:

      So looking forward to the completion and opening of the dog run again. It’s been a long winter with limited clean, large and safe places to bring our dogs where they can exercise, play and socialize together as most dogs love to do. Thank you for this much needed upgrade.

    3. Dorian Yeager says:

      I am so very happy. I can’t afford my own dog but just adore bringing a cup of coffee and watching the dogs play. The tradition harkens back many years and a professional rugby coach. The dogs have been desperately missejd

    4. Seth says:

      Great to see this! My dog Banjo has been missing his morning trips to the park.

    5. Sasha Syomin says:

      I am UWS dog owner and happens to be a professional contractor with 25 years of experience. To tell us that it took contractor 4 months to get dog run surface “material” and to dig 12″ deep ditches is a slap in the face! was that “material” delivered from the moon. and we all saw that the work they did and then stopped took them less than a month! then I guess they figured out the need to “slow down” or be asked the question why a month long project cost $700K of our taxpayers money! disgrace!

    6. Perry says:

      The cost of this renovation is ridiculous. Someone is making a lot of money from this renovation, The plan says there will be a third less benches in the run. I heard that the trash cans cost over $2500.00 each. It’s hard to believe it can take a year to change the run. There is not a building being built here. Just drainage, fencing and new ground cover. For the money they should make a refillable tub for bathing and a shed too!

      • Sasha Syomin says:

        agree. the problem is the money already spent. while we are walking by with our dogs seeing for months nothing, someone spends nice vacation and our money on Caribbean island.

    7. Sasha Syomin says:

      now we going to call our dog run not Bull Moose but Bull S..T.

    8. Sasha Syomin says:

      clueless planning. the trees will die: contractor ran “drain” tranches away from trees. not enough rain water will hurt them!

    9. Nina says:

      Thank you for publishing this update. I’ve been wondering what’s happening in the park! Your website is invaluable for this neighborhood.

    10. Rich Weil says:

      Thursday and Friday, January 30 and 31. And yet again, no work on the site.

      On schedule for July? This job is just ¼ of an acre, no heavy construction. They started in August. It’s February. There are always delays with construction, sure, but not this. What happened is that Parks made a one-year contract for a job that should take at most three months. In fact, the work is almost done and they’ve worked at the site a total of four or five weeks in six months. And yet they say on schedule for July. Makes them sound heroic.

      What’s really happening is that the contractor has no incentive to finish in a reasonable amount of time. Why would they? They sign a contract for a year, and there’s no oversight or accountability. They can do what they want. If another job comes along they pull men off of our site to work on the other. Why turn away other work (that probably has serious deadlines) when you know you’ve got a year to finish the current job? It’s money in the bank.

      This happens because there is a culture of indifference at Parks. Look at another of their projects. A child’s playground in Riverside Park that took 12 years to complete and when they opened it the bathrooms weren’t ready.

      I know from personal experience what a gross affair this is because I’ve been on this thing since before the beginning of the work in August, speaking and emailing with the contractor, architect, capital projects manager (who to his credit took my calls), the media, and Steve Simon, chief of staff to the parks borough commissioner. I’ve been lied to, told half-truths, and ignored. If Parks cared they’d push the contractor, and they certainly would not make a one-year contract for work that should be done in far less.

      I want to put a word in for my buddies and neighbors, Jane Beal, whose been on this thing since the very start almost a decade ago, for whom we owe a debt of gratitude, and Elaine Boxer, who is as resilient and perseverant as they come, with the patience of a saint.

      Shame on Parks for making us wait like this. They should not be let off the hook with their claim of “on schedule for July 2020.” What a disgust. Let’s hope this thing gets finished in the next month.
      Rich Weil

      • Sasha Syomin says:

        Dear Rich. Can’t agree with you more! what a rip off, what a waste of our time, money, what a waste of our dog’s short life time they have with us. To deny them almost 10% of their life span from enjoinment of playing, running, exercising- a crime! Being a contractor myself I am disgusted by this in our-face situation! sasha.

    11. Come on Now says:

      Dept of Parks: Google “How China can build a hospital for coronavirus patients in a week”
      TL;DR: because they actually,really want to.