By A. Campbell
Friends of the Bull Moose Dog Run have encountered a new and unexpected snag. Located along the north side of the American Museum of Natural History, the dog run that reopened in July after a much-needed $683,000 renovation by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department. Based on its history of flooding, a primary objective of the renovation was to ensure the dog run would drain properly during and after rainstorms.
At a recent meeting of the Community Board 7 Parks & Environment Committee, Elaine Boxer, a volunteer who is heavily involved with the dog run community, conveyed feedback she has been receiving from community members who complain that the rice gravel which was installed during the recent renovation is too small and sharp. According to dog owners, dogs playing in the run regularly get gravel pieces caught between their toes which then causes lacerations.
“The surface itself seems to be irritating and perhaps even dangerous to the dogs’ paws,” Boxer said. Boxer shared that in Fall 2019 she had been briefed on the dog run renovations by Steve Simon, Chief of Staff to the Manhattan Borough Commissioner. During their discussion, Simon had asserted that the contractor in charge of the renovations was unable to access pea gravel – the type of landscaping rock which had been used on the dog run prior to the renovation. Boxer noted that both humans and dogs now have trouble navigating the rice gravel due to the depth and sharpness of the rocks. While the rice gravel was successfully tested for its drainage properties, it was never tested for dogs, she noted.
According to Matt Genrich, Parks Supervisor at NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Parks Department is aware of the issues about the gravel and is looking into what can be done. While addressing questions about the dog run, Boxer remarked that she has also witnessed more dog owners exercising their dogs on the lawns surrounding the museum rather than within the dog run perimeter. (The lawns are off limits to the public, both dog-owners and non-dog-owners alike.)
“We’ve got this beautiful facility, and you’re breaking the rules, and you’re on the lawn,” Boxer said. “For whatever reason, the lawn is preferable to what we’ve just made.”
Board member Natasha Kazmi concurred with Boxer, saying that she has witnessed a significant increase in the amount of people treading over the lawns around the Museum. “I see it every single day. There are at least eight different dogs in there and they jump over the fence, and I’m just trying to understand why they are there when this brand new dog run is there, and maybe it’s these issues that Elaine is highlighting.” Kazmi inquired whether it would be possible to step up the amount of enforcement from museum security officers or parks department personnel to remind people that the lawns aren’t meant to be used.
In response to questions from the Board, Genrich confirmed that there are signs posted around the lawns noting they are not public. “The lawn is signed,” said Genrich. “It is something that myself and other parks employees regularly ask – for people to get off the lawn – but we can’t always be stationed there. I will say that it’s not only dog owners that I’ve seen on the lawns. There have been people other than dog owners using the lawns when they’ve been signed as closed.”