Today’s news:

Juniper Park dog run plan inches ahead in committee

Tempers flared again as supporters of a dog run in Juniper Valley Park met with the Juniper Park Civic Association and Community Board 5’s Parks Committee to discuss the controversial proposal.

Meeting at a Parks Department storage building at the park Monday night, civic members and dog advocates sparred over noise complaints and whether the review of potential plans would be tainted by members of the JPCA also serving on CB 5.

“We should just bury the past and what went wrong,” said dog run advocate Rich McGraw. “There’s probably three or four sites we could all live with. ... If we know some of the potential pitfalls, we can start looking at resolutions.”

Dog owners are asking for two permanently fenced enclosures and watering facilities to be built in the open areas between the ballfields at Juniper Boulevard North and 76th Street. CB 5 Parks Committee Chairman Steve Fiedler offered other suggestions for the run, including behind the bleachers near the hockey rink and behind the fieldhouse where the meeting was held.

The dog owners plan to look at the other sites and bring back more information for next month’s Parks Committee meeting.

The Parks Department had proposed a dog run in March 2006 during a bitter fight between dog owners, CB 5 and the Juniper Park Civic Association over the city allowing dogs off leashes during nighttime hours in parks without dog runs. The plan was dropped after the groups did not come to an agreement.

Dog owners argued in favor of the central location, where temporary fencing already exists for dogs.

“Everyone we’ve talked to feels it’s the best spot,” said Joseph Pisano, who spearheaded the dog run advocacy, noting the location is farthest from any houses outside the park. “We want it to be the nicest dog park in the city. We will make it that if you give us the opportunity.”

But civic members pointed out that barking dogs in the park is the most common quality−of−life complaint the civic receives.

“I don’t know why you don’t think people hear your dogs barking,” said Juniper Park Civic Vice President Lorraine Sciulli.

“Give us a dog park where we don’t have to have 50 people show up between 6 and 9 a.m. and you won’t have so much noise,” Pisano said. Juniper Valley Park closes at 9 p.m., reducing the hours during which dogs can be off the leash.

Juniper Park Civic President Robert Holden told the dog owners to ask City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village) for a capital project allocation.

“Juniper Civic will not support a dog run that’s just a fence around an area,” he said. “You can raise enough money to maintain it, but you’re not going to raise enough to build it.”

Fiedler said he was not necessarily against a dog run in the park, but noted his reservations about what sort of crowd the facility would attract.

“I’m not worried about you guys,” he said to the gathered advocates. “I’m worried about what else it’s going to bring.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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