The dilapidated dog run at Central Park may finally get a face-lift — without a penny from the city coffers.
A group of dedicated dog owners have decided to raise the money on their own to rebuild the old tennis court that was turned into a leash-free zone years ago.
“You know, you have the beautiful rose garden there, and then you have an abandoned tennis court,” said organizer Mary Ann Ruscitto.
They need $100,000 to redo the court. The group wants to resurface the lot and expand it to create a separate space for small dogs — one of the top requests from dog owners.
They also want to add a tree for shade and a fountain for drinking water, making the park more palatable in the summer.
Also on their wish list is bigger entrances so that owners in wheelchairs can maneuver in and out easily.
The work may be done in phases as they earn the money, Ruscitto said. She doesn’t plan to ask the city for any money.
“I don’t think it will cost a lot,” she said. “I don’t want to ask the city for a cent.”
Fundraisers are still being organized, but she envisions contests and other events geared to dog owners at the dog run.
“Make it a happening place, an event,” she said, suggesting a dog beauty contest as one fundraiser. “Have these events maybe yearly.”
Dog owners are particularly enthusiastic about the proposal to build a separate area for small dogs. Some owners of small dogs said they simply walk through the park, rather than going off-leash in the tennis court, because they’re worried that the big dogs will hurt their pets.
One owner said he lets his small dog off the leash at the golf course and other wooded locations, rather than in the dog run.
Ruscitto feels the same way.
She owns a cocker spaniel and a miniature poodle, and she doesn’t take either one to the dog run.
“I was uncomfortable bringing them there because of the big dogs,” she said. “It’s not that there are bad dogs there, but I had a dog attacked by a Rottweiler.”
Other owners would just like to see it spruced up.
Judi Gross, who owns a small, shy Scottish terrier, drives 100 miles to Schenectady to take her dog Bitsy to a veterinary specialist. They stop at Central Park before every visit.
She said she would welcome a better dog run.
“It sounds like a wonderful idea, because dog parks are few and far between,” she said.