Showdown at the Warren Street Dog Park

Last week, there was an article in the Broadsheet about the dog park and playground on Warren Street, which were improperly built by the developer of 200 Chambers. The Department of Education did work on the playground half of the rehabilitation, but the Parks Department—which the Broadsheet said owns the Warren Street Dog Park—hasn’t done anything. The article elicited the following response from Shirley Jaffe and Jared Sheer of the board of Dog Owners of Tribeca, which oversees the dog park.

The Warren Street Dog Park has always been operated by and for the community, without input or oversight from the NYC Parks Department. In fact, our non-profit community group Dog Owners of Tribeca, Inc., which currently operates the park, was created years ago as a direct result of the Parks Department’s expressed disinterest in adequately maintaining the Park.

While the Parks Department did meet with us, “the dog run people,” recently, what’s missing is what else they did in the process: they effectively gutted the park as we know it.

For well over a decade, the Park has been insured, cleaned, repaired, outfitted, and maintained entirely by our community group, with zero contribution from the Parks Department, monetarily or otherwise. The result is a park that is power-washed 3x a week, exceptionally clean, and a model for others. The expenses for doing so have always been 100% absorbed by the community that the park serves, and was achieved through a nominal $10/month membership fee.

Last week, after years of absenteeism and apathy, the Parks Department demanded that we immediately dismantle our existing membership-based program and take the keycode off the park’s door, while simultaneously refusing, at least initially, to bear any responsibility for the expenses or maintenance relating to the park moving forward. In essence, we were instructed to continue funding the park and stripped of the tools to do so. At the same time, the Parks Department in turn sought to impose their authority, without offering any accountability.

As stewards for the park, we pushed back and refused to do so unless Parks affirmatively accepts responsibility for the insurance, and expenses relating to services even as basic as garbage removal and maintenance.

Parks finally acquiesced, but has now come back and insisted that our organization remove all of the benches and pools in the park because they were not Parks Department-issued, without necessarily planning on replacing them. The irony of course is that had Parks provided these items in the first place, our organization wouldn’t have had to.

No one wants repairs to the western sinkhole in the park more than our organization does, but we are skeptical about the Parks Department’s ability to achieve this repair given their history with the property. In light of their reluctance to provide even basic services for the Warren Street Dog Park moving forward, it would be naive to think that they will now achieve a million-dollar-plus repair with any expediency. In fact, in the City’s ongoing lawsuit against the developer of 200 Chambers, it was our organization, and not the Parks Department, that the City Law Department consulted in filing their suit. Not once is the Parks Department even mentioned in their complaint, let alone a named party. While the City is suing on behalf of their interests as the property owner, and the Parks Department is naturally an agency of the City, the level of dispassion on their part historically speaks volumes. Our organization, on the other hand, is repeatedly referenced in the suit as the operator of the park, and we have long advocated on the park’s behalf toward achieving a repair.

Ultimately, we are amenable to the Parks Department’s newfound interest in taking over responsibility for the park, but the keyword here is “responsibility.” What we cannot accept however is a scenario where the Parks Department strips the park down to nothing, as they’re suggesting doing, and leaving nothing in its wake.

This would seem like a situation where our local councilmember, Margaret Chin, could step in and help. But will she?



  1. Margaret Chin?
    we only see or hear from her when its time to be re-elected.

  2. I don’t know, the Parks Department seems to be doing a great job with the numerous dog runs in Battery Park as well as those along the Hudson River Greenway. They are clean and respected by the Tribeca and Battery Park Public who use the spaces. The fact that they’ve been able to maintain these dog runs leads any reasonable person to believe that they will do the same with their dog run on Warren Street.

    Honestly, this sounds a whole lot like some folks who have been able to charge dog owners, make their own rules and decide how to limit membership for a Private Dog run on Parks Department property, who want to keep their little private fiefdom private.

    Let’s please try to keep public spaces public.

    • The Parks Department does not operate any dog runs in BPC or HRPT. In fact, they are not the best Dog Run stewards and have been neglectful at their core in this case…definitely go to CB1 – the open space and parks committee and try Margaret Chin’s office – nothing to lose by trying…

  3. Hudson River Park Trust and Battery Park Conservancy clean and oversee those dog runs. It’s really no different than the fee/locked tennis court in Washington Square Park.

  4. All I want is a little space in Tribeca and Battery Park City with grass. Like they have all the way in the Battery during the spring, summer and fall. Revolving area to allow the grass to be maintained and regenerate. Lots of responsible dog owners. The concrete is so tough on the pups feet and they all have such a better time on grass.

    • There are three grassy spots in between Lafayette and Centre between the Federal Building and the Court Houses off Worth Street. One of those would be a perfect place for a dog park.

  5. The statement of the dog owners of Tribeca group reeks of pomposity. They illegally co-opted a public space, and now they seem to be laboring under the gross misapprehension that they can set conditions under which they will “surrender” control of a space which they were never entitled to in the first place. How is this any different than a “community group” seizing control of a public pool, locking the gate, making rules for membership, and charging membership fees? And then trying to justify the illegal seizure by putting out some nice chairs and perhaps cleaning the pool a few extra times a day? An utterly fatuous argument.

    • Cliff agree with you entirely. I’d also like to know more about the “insurance” these thieves claimed to have paid for over the last 10 years. How does one get insurance on a property one neither owns nor rents? Isn’t this insurance fraud? I’ll bet here is no formal insurance and if someone were hurt within the park the City of NY would be sued — not DOOT. Moreover, who has paid taxes on the property for the last 10 years? I’d think all taxpayers did, not just the chosen few with exclusive “membership” rights. And now caught, the thieves want to dictate how the park is maintained. Makes you laugh, really. If I were a local, I would sue the DOOT (whose website BTW has been dismantled).

      • Quick to throw around words like “insurance fraud”, “thieves” without being involved or knowing any information other than what you read in the NY Post. This was not a “for profit” organization as you note. It was a clean space that policed people picking up after their dogs and a safe place where all the dogs were registered and if there were few if any incidents with aggressive dogs because of this.

        Whatever money was taken in was used to power wash daily, water bill, shovel in winter and yes, insurance. As far as the “arcane rules” seems to me a rule that says you can’t bring food into a dog park or young children makes sense. Anyway, what has operated in good faith is now shut down and namaste to all.

        I pay taxes yet I can’t play tennis in the court in Washington Market Park without buying a tennis membership to get the code to the gate. I pay taxes that go to the Board of Education and have no kids in the system yet I can’t swim in the Stuy High pool without buying a pool membership. How is this different?

        • Legality. There, I answered you in one word, genius. What else you got?

        • No. People pay taxes for the greater good of ALL citizens, not for a select few. How can you not see how local kids having a place to learns makes a better environment for you? Also tennis courts are activity specific so it is really beneficial to players that some sort of safe guard is in place to ensure that the courts do not have random people standing around in them for other reasons; no one stands around in a dog park for fun.

          Similar to seizing a public dog park that all citizen taxes go to, this comment seems egregiously pompous at worst and an inequivalent comparison at best.

          What if a resident of NY or even better, the neighborhood, with a pup happens to be in the area with their pup? They can’t enter the PUBLIC park they pay taxes for because some illegally co-opting org? Sounds like very nice and polite extortion.

          What happened to just volunteering if you want to beautify the community (as if Tribeca lacks) even more? Why make an exclusionary policy at the expense of others? How is this not colonization or a good ole boys club? Lol

      • I’m shocked and pretty upset by this. I live in Tribeca and have a dog. I would understand charging a fee if the space was on private land, but these people are squatters. I clean trash on the sidewalk; it doesn’t give me the right to extend my apartment borders out and block other people from using the sidewalk.

        There are tons of community groups around that plant flowers and do trash cleanup days for public spaces out of a sense of community pride. Absolutely none of them go own to claim ownership of the property. It is appalling that the heads of DOOT, Shirley Jaffe and Jared Sheer, have deluded themselves into thinking that they were somehow benefitting the community. The only people who benefitted were the people they decided to bestow membership on.

        Regardless of the fee to use the park (which we do all pay for through city taxes), they were also discriminating against dog owners they didn’t like or who they felt “didn’t fit”. Public land is for public good. Not the benefits of a select few who are grabby and selfish.


    “When the dog run first opened, the Parks Department tasked the DOOT to help run the park.

    ” ‘Dog runs are maintained through barknerships between NYC Parks and community groups,’ said Sam Biederman, a Parks spokesman. ‘NYC Parks dog runs are meant to be open to the public — charging for entrance is prohibited.’

    “Parks officials snipped the lock Friday, after receiving a complaint. DOOT members were left seething.”

  7. I believe Doot is missing the big picture, seizing a public domain and charging membership without city approval is illegal! They should consider themselves lucky that the city just clipped the lock instead of pushing legal action on them. Public domains are only allowed to profit of voluntary donations and not forced membership. No matter how they try to justify they’re action it doesn’t cover the fact that they got off easily essentially a warning. Futher action may result in a hefty fine with charges actually falling under vandalism since they altered public property without city approval.

  8. My bet is the city has some plan for this property that has nothing to do with a park and everything to do with making a buck.

    • My bet is the city goes after the “Board of Directors” of the illegally coopted dog run, for the excess of $80,000 + per year which disappeared after the purchase of poop bags and power washing was done.

      I also bet the city goes after the self proclaimed stewards of the park for their alleged claim of having privately insured the public space.

      Finally, I bet the membership of the dog run who paid for the privilege of using a public space which they should have had free access, simultaneously come to the conclusion that they had been paying for years for an uninsured property and were merely paying for the personal vacation slush fund of a select few and take this to civil court to sue those involved. I think it’s called “class action.”

  9. And now it’s locked. Did someone forget to unlock it today or is something else going on? I’m waiting on a call back from the Parks Department to find out.