PLEASE SUPPORT W42ST
W42ST runs on limited resources to keep Hell’s Kitchen connected, updated and upbeat. Access is totally free. Please consider supporting what we do so that we can continue our work!
From Halloween to St Patrick’s Day, New York dogs and their owners have frolicked in costume through Hudson River Park at seasonal gatherings on Pier 84. But the party will have to go on pause (paws?) as the Hudson River Park Trust begins key renovations next month on the pup-friendly space.
The project will shutter the dog run at W44th Street and 12th Avenue from April 28 through the end of the summer. Work will include general maintenance and upkeep as well as the addition of a spray shower, water fountain, and pet bowl for furry visitors, enhanced seating options and improved surfaces for dog owners, salvaged stone pieces for doggie rock climbing, plus a double gated safety vestibule and increased fencing.
“The Pier 84 Dog Park is Midtown’s best location to bring lovable pups that appreciate a good view — and we look forward to welcoming park goers and their pets back to the new and improved dog destination,” said Noreen Doyle, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park (HRPK) Trust.
Debbie Heard, a lifelong New Yorker and Hell’s Kitchen resident since 2013, was thrilled to hear that renovations are beginning, citing overdue safety hazards at the current space. “Sinkholes were getting bigger and bigger, and there were nails in the middle of the ground,” said Heard, who frequently brings her 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Max, for early morning visits to Pier 84. “I stepped and fell in a sinkhole because it was still dark out, fracturing my wrist and my hip,” she added.
“I have been fighting for renovations since 2018,” said Heard. After informing local park rangers of the sinkholes and prevalence of loose nails in the ground, which had injured several dogs and their owners, she escalated the issue to former District 3 City Council member Corey Johnson’s office. “I got the runaround — it went on and on. But in 2019, we finally got somewhere. They came out and started taking measurements and asked us what improvements we wanted.” Heard and other dog owners requested several safety improvements, including increased accessibility for wheelchair users who found the hilly terrain impossible to navigate. While COVID-19 park shutdowns delayed the start of the project, Johnson’s office allocated $105,000 of funding and the HRPK Trust has renewed its commitment to completing renovations at the pier.
The proposed improvements are welcome news to Heard, who emphasizes the special sense of community and accountability forged between regular Pier 84 visitors. “We try to keep it clean. I put together ‘clean the dog park’ days,” she said. In addition to working together with rangers and the HRPK staff to keep the run safe and clean, the dog owners of Pier 84 regularly organize large-scale community celebrations, with the blessing of HRPK rangers. “We do so many parties — everyone from the neighborhood comes out and participates,” said Heard. “At our first Halloween party in 2016, we had almost a hundred people and as many dogs.” Everyone contributes, she added: “We bring coffee, I get empanadas from the corner street vendor, and we make sure the owners and the staff get to eat. It’s either bring a treat for the dogs or for the people. Everybody’s welcome.”
While the space is under renovation, she plans to coordinate meetups between furry friends at various nearby dog runs, including parks at Dewitt Clinton Park on W52nd Street, W72nd S and Riverside, Silver Towers at W41st Street (though pet owners should be extra cautious after a recent stray voltage incident nearby), and Astro’s Dog Run on W39th Street and 10th Avenue (where Heard is a keyholder). “We exchanged numbers and we’ve gotten a little group and together to walk to different places.”
As the group prepares for a hiatus from their beloved Pier 84 space, Heard encouraged Hell’s Kitchen pet owners to join them at the new and improved dog run later this summer. “Pier 84 brings the community together. We have a great time there. I think we have even more fun than the dogs.”