By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Madison Square Park Conservancy has announced a plan to renovate the dog run in the park, known as Jemmy’s Run, this past weekend.
The new run will be in the same place as the existing run but will be reconfigured to add more space for small dogs and to include new amenities, such as increased lighting, small hills and a water feature.
“We haven’t been able to serve small dogs in the existing space,” the conservancy’s executive director Keats Meyer said on Saturday at Barkfest, an event at the park for dogs and their owners. “It ends up being sort of like a cage, like a ‘small dog time out.’”
Meyer said that the renovations plans have been reviewed by neighborhood dog owners in previous workshops and surveys and adjusted based on community suggestions and needs. Meyer noted that one aspect of the plan that many respondents of the survey agreed on was changing the surface because users of the run don’t like the gravel that is currently there.
Some dog owners who attended Barkfest enthusiastically agreed that the gravel should be replaced with a different surface.
Jen Munoz, a resident of Murray Hill, said that she takes her shih-tzu Li Li to the park but not into the dog run because of the smell.
Ashmi Dang, owner of a bijon-poodle mix, said that she actually walks up to Madison Square Park from Union Square because the dog run there smells even worse due to the surface.
“It feels like you’re walking into a toilet, so I like that they’re bringing in new paving options,” she said. “Concrete is easier to clean.”
Dang also said that she was looking forward to a bigger space for the small dogs.
“Small dogs have a lot of energy,” she said.
The final plan, with a still unknown price tag, is still in the process of being approved by the Parks Department. Meyer said that the conservancy still needs to fundraise for the renovations and the project is expected to begin in one to two years.
The event over the weekend was mainly to introduce the community to the plans and get additional input, which dog owners wrote on post-its stuck to an easel. Many were enthusiastic about the plan and supported the idea of replacing the gravel with a different surface but there were a few nay-sayers.
One merely stated, “Awful,” and another said, “Please don’t do this — bad idea.”