Astoria dog owners wait and wait for completed park

The few dog-friendly areas in Astoria Park are some of the places local dog-owners can exercise their pups. Photo via NYC Parks.

The few dog-friendly areas in Astoria Park are some of the places local dog-owners can exercise their pups. Photo via NYC Parks.

By Dylan Campbell

Astoria residents are still waiting for the final touches to be made to a new dog park one month after it was scheduled to open and two years after the city broke ground on the project.

The dog-bone shaped park, known as “Triborough Playground C,” is located along Hoyt Avenue South between 23rd Street and 24th Street, and was scheduled to open in April. But the gates around the seemingly completed park remain locked, prompting eager dog-owners to howl on social media.

“Still not done! Other guys there today touching up the basketball court pavement. That still has to be painted. I see no reason the dog park should not be finished other than stalling to have some official open it altogether,” Astoria resident Jamie Rossner wrote on the Astoria Dog Owners Group on Facebook.

“This is an extreme disappointment and — related or not — it doesn’t make me feel good about DPR’s [Department of Parks and Recreation] ability to reopen the southern third of Astoria Park on schedule,” added Brian Wysocki, another resident.

A 2012 analysis by the New York City Environmental Development Corporation found that Astoria has one of the highest pet populations in the city, but just one dedicated dog park — a  small dog run near Astoria Park.

The NYC Parks Department said the park is nearly complete and will open “soon.”

“We are finalizing some punch list items,” Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor told the Eagle by email. “But we hope to open Triborough C imminently.”

Lalor said small additions have prevented the park from opening.

“One example is adding some more fence posts to make sure that the space is safe and up to our standards,” Lalor said.

She did not provide a specific timeline for when the park would open.

Astoria residents began advocating for the dog park in April 2015 and voted to fund it through participatory budgeting. Later that year, Borough President Melinda Katz agreed to contribute the additional $500,000 needed to fully fund the project. Construction on the $1 million project began in 2017.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides said he is “bothered by the recent string of delays” preventing the park from opening.

“Dog owners made this project a reality during the participatory budgeting process, hoping for a much-needed safe area for their four-legged family members to run and play,” Costantinides said. “While we wanted this work wrapped up by the start of spring, the Astoria community also deserves the park it was promised.”

After the April opening date passed, many dog owners vented their frustrations on Facebook and Reddit.

Safety and quality come first, said the people who proposed and pushed for the project.

“While ADOA [Astoria Dog Owners Association] is disappointed in there being a delay, we completely understand that delays happen,” said Rob and Erin Kirby, chairperson and vice chairperson of the Astoria Dog Owners Association. “We are excited that the park will ultimately be opening sooner than later, and are confident the city is moving as fast as they can given the constraints of constructing a public park.”