Strange Days Continue at Queens Parks - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the June 2009 Juniper Berry Magazine

Strange Days Continue at Queens Parks

People picnic where dogs defecate in Juniper Park. Inset photo, QParks Commissioner Lewandowski

Juniper Park Dog Run Proposal Has Convenient Booster

The issue of a dog run in Juniper Valley Park has again resurfaced. This time a group of about 25 dog owners is advocating for a very large dog run (they call it a dog park). Inexplicably, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski has taken the side of the dog run advocates and instead of protecting Juniper Valley Park's ambiance and beauty she is pushing to put a dog run in one of the nicest areas of the park, between the upper and lower ball fields. However, given her history, it may not be surprising at all. Many remember three years ago when Lewandowski presented a disgraceful plan to site a dog run in the Pullis garden area of the park. Fortunately, the Juniper Park Civic Association led the public outcry that derailed that plan.

We all know that dog runs are not pretty and certainly present a host of problems including foul odors, noise and the ever present danger to park users. The area that Ms. Lewandowski has selected for a possible dog run is a very beautiful tree laden location where school children picnic, people stroll, and many park users use to walk north and south. Many sit under the dozens of large oak trees that grace the sloping area. To build three dog runs including the installation of hundreds of feet of ugly fencing in that location is nothing short of a crime. But, there's another reason to question the Commissioner's wisdom.

Commissioner Lewandowski knows that dog urine is harmful to trees (see sidebar, left, by arborist Dr. Carsten W. Glaeser). If she doesn't believe it, she can ask the experts she has working for the Parks Department or visit the Parks Department website.

Why then would Commissioner Lewandowski advocate for a dog run in a heavily used pedestrian area with over 30 trees, many of them at least 50 years old?

She may be too close to the issue.

The Juniper Park Civic Association has learned that Lewandowski's Executive Assistant, Lisa Pisano, is the wife of the president of the Juniper Valley Park Dog Association, Joseph Pisano. How convenient!

Compromise Plan

In the interest of cooperation, Robert Holden, President of the JPCA, has suggested a dog run area (over 250 ft long) in back of the hockey rink in the upper ball field where there is space and a terrain that would blunt any barking noise, with the railroad immediately to the west. Lewandowski has refused that area because she states she wants to put a skate park at that site. However, if she wanted a skate park there why did her office just approve the planting of 12 new trees in her future skate park? How absurd. Obviously the trees were planted there to negate dog run considerations.

Dog run advocates said they did not like Holden's compromise plan because their pets need shade, well, trees were planted at a possible dog run site to accommodate that demand so the dogs can have their shade! Talk about out of control leadership! Absurd times in NYC Queens Parks Department, no question! You can't make this stuff up.

Juniper Valley Park is completely surrounded by homes. Dog barking can be heard in the nearby houses and in the summer the noise problem is worse because of open windows and doors.

As the Queens Park Commissioner, Lewandowski should be looking out for the welfare of mature trees in the parks in her jurisdiction, not looking to accommodate a small group of dog owners. When did it become the burden of the taxpayer to exercise people's dogs or to give up precious parkland for the canine lobby?

It gets even better. The Juniper Valley Park Dog Association has a mission statement that they recently circulated. If you think what you've read so far is bizarre, read this. They state when the dog run is built they will have the power to accept or reject any dog owner who wants entry into the dog park area. Anyone not cooperating with the rules of the pack leaders gets ejected! Also, and this is what is very humorous, they only want neutered dogs in the dog area! Visions of how they would check that qualification are comical at best. Even if all of the above were followed, what happens when the pack leaders go home or have days when they just are not in town to supervise the other dog owners? Who is in charge to carry out their rules? The bigger question is, what powers do they think they would have to enforce any rule in a public park?

More Absurdity

One of their members, Phyllis Taiano, wrote a cryptic, accusatory letter to Borough President, Helen Marshall, complaining about the JPCA and how she thinks the JPCA volunteers, who are also members of Community Board 5, should recuse themselves from the dog run issue because of, get this, a conflict of interest! Only those who agree with Ms. Taiano and her group need apply for discussions! She doesn't realize that Juniper Civic volunteers watch over all of Juniper Park 24/7 and do not attend meetings for only one specific agenda, as she and her cohorts do.

I don't think the Dog Association should be throwing around accusations of conflicts of interest when the wife of their president is the executive assistant to the Queens Parks Commissioner.

Something to mention about the dogs in Juniper Valley Park is that on damp, hot days the area reeks of urine and the feces waste that is put in the garbage baskets in the park stinks. Dog owners take their dogs and go home, leaving behind their stench for the nearby residents to endure 24/7.

300 New Trees

It must be mentioned to support the beauty and ambiance goal in Juniper Valley Park, recently 300 new trees and evergreens were planted in the park, supervised by Parks and Recreation Manager and arborist, Jeffrey Karl. When you see the beautiful young trees, you realize how inappropriate a filthy, odor infested dog run will be, and how it will detract from the green agenda which is being pursued at this point in time.

Juniper Valley Park has many facilities and amenities, all of them focused on one thing, supporting the natural beauty of the residential area and the natural beauty of Juniper Valley Park. Dog runs are best suited for areas away from residential housing where the dogs can run and jump and their owners, who are constantly screaming at their dogs to behave, can sit around and socialize, something most think would be impossible if they didn't have their dogs to break the ice of communication with another human being!