Astoria’s four-legged friends will soon have a park to call their own.
Elected officials gathered under the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge last week to announce the allocation of $1 million to build an official dog park in the neighborhood. The park, which is currently a basketball court, will be located at Hoyt Avenue North between 23rd and 24th streets.
Councilman Costa Constantinides allocated $500,000 for the dog park after it received 773 votes from the community through participatory budgeting. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is also providing $500,000 for the construction from her discretionary capital funds.
“Building a new dog run will bring great benefits to the entire community,” Constantinides said. “This lot will be a designated place where dogs can play safely and share full enjoyment with their owners. I am especially proud to know that our residents selected this project through participatory budgeting and that the community showed support for it.”
Currently, Astoria residents can bring their dogs to Astoria Park during off-leash hours from 6 to 9 a.m. or to Bugsy’s Dog Run, an unofficial dog park that is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. According to the Astoria Dog Owners Association website, the run is inadequate for several reasons. The space experiences frequent flooding, there is no fresh water source for dogs, and the fence enclosing the area is too low and has many holes.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the New York Economic Development Corporation, Astoria has one of the highest cat and dog ownership rates in Queens with 30,001 to 41,627 pets living in the neighborhood.
According to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski construction for projects such as this dog park take about a year and a half to begin and the Parks Department will hold meetings to receive suggestions on designs from the public.
Community Board 1, the Astoria Dog Owners Association and the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association will be in charge of cleaning and maintaining the park.
“In a borough of families, dogs are very much a part of many New York families’ lives,” Katz said. “The Astoria Dog Park will become the newest public treasure in the neighborhood offering a safe environment for families to enjoy with their four-legged family members.”