By Bill Parry
More than a dozen dogs, and their owners staked a claim to an area below the RFK Bridge as the future home of Astoria’s first officially designated dog park last Friday.
As part of participatory budgeting, City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) allocated $500,000 to build the new dog run on half of Triborough Lot C at Hoyt Avenue North between 23rd and 24th streets. The other half will remain a basketball court.
“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.”
The project was one of three winning proposals this spring, with 773 residents voting to set aside $500,000. Borough President Melinda Katz allocated an additional $500,000 for the park.
“In a borough of families, dogs are very much a part of 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 their four-legged family members.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) added some additional funding.
“Providing our growing neighborhood with additional park space is one of my top priorities, and this new dog run will create needed open space for dog lovers,” Gianaris said. “As we continue to invest in our parks for the benefit of all neighborhood residents, today’s efforts will help bring a new safe and enjoyable place for our community.”
The officials were joined by Community Board 1, along with members of the Astoria Dog Owners Association and the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, the groups that will help maintain cleanliness at the dog park.
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said construction on the park would begin within 18 months. The Parks Department will hold a number of public meetings for community input for the design.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr