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Deal near on Juniper dog run

The key players in the ongoing battle for a dog run in Middle Village appear to be inching toward an accord, but they cautioned against excessive optimism as factions disagreed over whether an alternate site was acceptable.

“This isn’t a question of whether we will have a dog run or not,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) told a Community Board 5 meeting last week. “We just need to keep putting our heads together to find the right location.”

Advocates and community members have organized a tour of potential alternate sites leaving from Crowley’s office, 64-77 Dry Harbor Rd., at noon Saturday. But Kathy Masi, head of Community Board 5’s dog run subcommittee, said a CSX-owned property near the Long Island Expressway was out of the running because the railroad had not communicated with her in some time.

Crowley’s office had been in discussions with the railroad about using the property for a dog run. Masi said another civic group has issues with the site and warned she had received many calls from residents upset with the idea of spending public funds on a dog run.

“We’re really going to have to reconsider what we’re looking at,” she said. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable about this.”

The Juniper Valley Park Dog Owners Association has been advocating for a dog run in the park since November 2008, revisiting a fight over the role of dogs in the park.

“My wish for Christmas is that in 2009 they make the announcement that there will be a dog run,” said dog owner Cait Beirne.

The dog group approached CB 5 with a proposal earlier this year, requesting a swath of land between two baseball diamonds. District Manager Gary Giordano said at November’s meeting that he was shocked by how much space the group had asked for.

But Joseph Pisano, head of the Juniper Park Dog Owners Association, said the group had expected feedback about its plan and would have settled for less space.

“We’d be disappointed if we couldn’t have the spot we wanted,” he said. “But we’re willing to look at somewhere else.”

Masi also warned that even projects roundly supported by the community board can take years to get funding.

“You’re going to have to be patient,” she said.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said Dec. 8 she had not heard any new developments involving the dog run for some time. The city Parks Department has indicated it is willing to allot space for a dog run if community groups can agree on the plan.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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