New Dog Run Group Eyes Shore Front Location
By Brian Magoolaghan
The group that's been formed to establish a dog run on Parks Department property in Rockaway was this week gearing up to formally introduce itself and propose a new location to the community. Meanwhile, the spot they're smitten with is already facing some opposition.
The new group, Allied Rockaway Foundation for Animal Recreation and Fitness, or the much cuter Arf Arf, has already met twice on the subject of a dog run in Rockaway, and will meet again next week.
This week, the group worked on drafting a letter to send to key community stakeholders and representatives: Community Board 14; City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr.; the Rockaway Beach Civic Association and others, according to Valerie McClean, a member of the group.
Arf Arf's letter of introduction wasn't available when The Wave went to press, but their mission statement was and it reads: "To establish a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens can exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property, or wildlife. To develop a beautiful well-maintained space open to all dog lovers and friends who are willing to uphold the park's rules and restrictions and to view this park as a community project, in partnership with the City of New York and the Department of Parks, designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners alike."
While the group hasn't formally proposed a location for a dog run (an old shuffleboard court on Beach 104 Street and Shore Front Parkway, and Freeway Park have both been previously discussed), the site they're going to propose was announced at Community Board 14's monthly meeting Tuesday night. Chairperson Delores Orr, who attended Arf Arf's last meeting on March 11, said the group likes a spot on Beach 99 Street and Shore Front Parkway. McClean confirmed that for The Wave on Wednesday.
"As a group we agreed that the Beach 99 Street site could be the most desirable site," McClean said. "We just felt that it would be a great starting point."
The large open and empty area has its pros and cons, just like the other spots that have been considered. There's fencing, a few benches and water nearby, so only "minimal changes" would be needed for a trial run, McClean said. It's also centrally located.
But Delores Orr, the chair of CB14 and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, which covers the area in question, says the civic is not likely to support such a trial. She told The Wave the group is concerned because the area doesn't have parking of its own, there's no sound barrier to shield neighbors, including St. Camillus Parish, from any dog barking and it would eliminate a boardwalk access staircase. The civic is also afraid that man's best friend could be a distraction for motorists passing by, Orr said. Her comments, however, were not completely negative.
"We absolutely want a dog run," said Orr. "We think it's a great thing.
"They have a very nice group and they seem very committed," Orr added. She also praised the group for saying that it will go before the community board's Parks and Recreation Committee with its proposal, although Parks and Addabbo have said that the board's approval isn't required.
McClean says Arf Arf also looked at sites on Beach 77 Street and in Belle Harbor on Beach 127 Street and Beach Channel Drive (they have their good and bad points as well) and is committed to finding the right spot for the dog run.
"We want everyone in the neighborhood to like the idea," she said. "Building a dog run is going to be a great thing for the community."
Orr asked CB14 Parks and Recreation chair Dan Mundy to set a date with Arf Arf, but a date wasn't set at press time. Arf Arf is holding its next meeting on Sunday, March 25 at 11 a.m. inside the Parks shack at 86-01 Shore Front Parkway.