The Dog Park Drama Escalates

As James noted in a comment, the New York Post wrote about the Warren Street Dog Run—specifically, how nearly 10 years ago, in the absence of city interest, folks in the neighborhood put a lock on it and charged membership dues in order to maintain the park, even though it’s city property, and now the Parks Department has cut the lock. (Whether Parks has plans to step up its involvement remains unclear.) The Post also brought up an intriguing question about the finances: “The non-profit [Dog Owners of Tribeca] raked in $83,000 in ‘membership dues’ through 2016, according to their tax filings. They claimed to use the doggie dough for upkeep, such as pressure-washing the blacktop three times a week, maintenance and repairs, insurance and supplies such as poop bags. Money was often left over after each year, the filings show.” The writer doesn’t say whether the money was $10 or $10,000.

The Post article takes a class-war angle, which got its readers frothed up. With nowhere to vent—the article doesn’t allow comments—several of them came to this site; some were angry but reasonable, some called the dog run organizers names and demanded they be imprisoned. As always, I reserve the right not to approve any comment that makes me feel sort of sick. A few of note:

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

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). —Maura Kennedy [Note: The use of the word “thieves” pushed me to the very brink of not allowing the comment, but I thought the insurance question was interesting. —Ed.]

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? —Jonah

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. Further action may result in a hefty fine with charges actually falling under vandalism since they altered public property without city approval. —Octavia Melody

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. —Neo

UPDATE: “Just walked by and saw Parks Department staff preparing a blow torch to get through a thick lock and chain at the Warren Street dog run,” say K. C. And from I.: “Here are some pictures of NYC Park Dept employees cutting locks on Tribeca Dog Run. They installed an official park plate, too.”



  1. Story on Good Day NY this morning about the dog park credits TC. Cool!

  2. The ‘ENTITLED” ALWAYS THINKS THEY AR ENTITLED. this doesn’t surprise me the least. charging for a public space, lock and all. I really can’t stand these stuck up snobs that ran us out of our own city. New York became a sell out.

    • Well the dog park had been running like this for 2 decades and was actually formed because the the Parks Dept left it in neglect. There goes your argument about stuck up snobs running you out of your city. Actually it’s the opposite. Let’s monitor the situation and see how it goes down. It won’t be long before the complaints about how the dog park has become a haven for kids hanging out at night. Peace out.

      • Jonah,

        You are also wrong. The dog park was built ten years ago in 2008 and taken over shortly thereafter by DOOT who grossly took advantage of their community group status and made their own rules. If they wanted to see change in cleanups, they should’ve filed complaints with the city who clearly would’ve done something about it like they did with the complaint about the public park having a lock which in turn they cut off immediately.

      • “We’ve been running things like this for 2 decades” has never worked as an effective defense

        Just ask Larry Nassar

      • Jonah, do not misrepresent this. DOOT was nowhere to be found 2 decades ago when this dog park was partitioned out. Furthermore were YOU even living here 2 decades ago to speak so authoritatively?

        I used to bring my dog here – for free – in 1999 and did so right up to when he passed away in 2007. I was never charged a buck and neither was anyone else who chose to use this PUBLIC land. Was it spotless? No, but neither was the neighborhood itself. Other dog runs across Manhattan pay for poo bags, cleaning, and swimming pools with fundraisers and donations. DOOT could have taken that route but they decided instead to take what wasn’t theirs to take.

        This sort of nonsense is just another reason why the rest of the city sees Tribeca as overrun with entitled snobs.

      • Also god forbid kids hang out somewhere at night. Why aren’t all teens in church or jail where they belong?

        Seriously, you would have gone into self-righteous shock if you were living down here in the 1970/80s…

  3. I have an idea: get rid of the dogs or move to the country. Too many dogs in NYC. Poop and pee literally everywhere. So annoying and disgusting.

  4. I’m headed there this weekend with my well-behaved, non-member dog. I hope somebody tries to keep me out.

  5. I’m so happy this is being brought back to the people of Tribeca! I look forward to bringing my dog there this weekend instead of trecking across the Westside HWY to BPC!

  6. No one is going to read my four day old comment. That said, there needn’t be mystery here – 990 filings are public information.

    The most recent filing for Dog Owners of Tribeca shows that in tax year 2016 they started the year with $15,725 in cash in their bank account, took in $10,440 from donations/membership fees, spent $16,912 and wound up with $9,253 left in the bank.

    They spent the $16,912 as follows:

    $4,427 on Cleaning
    $4,866 on repairs
    $1,846 on insurance
    $3,236 on power washes
    $2,297 on “supplies, etc”
    $600 on professional fees (presumably mostly preparing the form 990)

    The form 990 certainly doesn’t appear to show any impropriety – it looks like they’re running a dog park, paying lower Manhattan services prices. The two listed officers took no compensation.

    I do think it’s borderline insane to put a lock on a piece of public property and turn it into a private foundation, but it does appear to have been done honestly and with best intentions.

    • (Interestingly, they plainly acknowledge what they’e done in the “program services accomplishments” section of the form:

      “Allowing dogs to exercise off leash in a safe manner in New York City by assisting the City of New York in cleaning and maintaining the Warren Street Dog Park — a city park”)