Monday, January 16, 2006

Meeting Minutes 1/15/06

McCarren Dog Run Association Meeting

  • We had a great first meeting attended by approximately 20 dog owners/patrons of McCarren Dog Run.
  • Kerry Lowe who is our official representative from “Partnership for Parks” was present. She was an excellent resource throughout the meeting and let us know that we should contact her with any questions, concerns and needs for guidance ( / 718-965-8907). She has a lot of experience working with Park Volunteer Groups and Dog Run Volunteer Groups.
  • Linda Post from “NYC Dog” (pronounced “Nice” Dog) was present. She was extremely helpful in offering us advice and guidance. She was a part of the “Cooper Park” Dog Run which was recently built. She helped give us pointers on how they put certain things into place. NYC Dog is an umbrella organization for all of the Dog Runs in the City. They can offer us support and resources and act as a fiscal sponsor until we can gain 501c3 (non-profit) status (if we choose to do so).
  • We started out with a discussion re: why we felt the need for a meeting in the fist place. There used to be an Association, several years ago, which for one reason or another fizzled out. “Tommy” the self appointed Dog Run Foreman was there in the interim to maintain the run. He unfortunately had to move back to Poland. Now there is nobody maintaining the run and it is in desperate need of maintenance and repair!
  • Every Dog Run in the city has an association except for us. There are certain things the Parks Department will provide for us free of charge (Tools, Wood Chips, Snow Fence & Garbage Bags). Everything else is up to us (Labor, repairs, benches, message board, permanent fencing, etc.). Although it would be nice if the Parks Department would maintain the run for us, it’s simply not going to happen. It is the same for every dog run in the city. They will give us only certain basic things but we are expected to create and association to maintain the run. Our park contacts (Tony Rosa & Jose Urena) are extremely kind and helpful and they are very enthusiastic about working with us to create a clean safe space for our dogs.
  • The good news is that because there are many other Dog Run Associations to go before us, there is no need for us to “reinvent the wheel”. We can use other Associations as an example of what works well and what doesn’t work well. We can also tailor approaches to fit our specific needs.
  • Our Name: We decided there was no need to come up with anything too clever. We’ll just call ourselves “McCarren Dog Run Association” and for short: “MC Dog Run”.
  • Our Mission: To provide a clean, safe space for the dogs of McCarren Park.
  • Officers/Committees: We decided to create committees instead of traditional officers. This will help distribute responsibilities more evenly. We decided to break into three committees initially. If we need to make adjustments or changes as we go along, we can do that. The committees will be:

Ø Maintenance (regular cleanups & small repairs)

Ø Development (donations, grant writing, fundraising)

Ø Projects (message board, benches, small dog run, etc.)

A further explanation of committees will follow. Each committee will have a “point person”.

  • Regular Maintenance: Kim (Winston) Is the Point Person for the Maintenance Committee. Other members of the Maintenance Committee are: Ashley (Latta), Chad (Machiavelli & Tenzin), Rebecca & Bob (star dog walkers).

The Maintenance Committee is in charge of putting up signs and encouraging people to attend maintenance work parties word of mouth (everyone can help do this). They will also be in contact with Jose Urena of the Parks Dept. to make sure the he comes with the tools and materials we need and make sure that all of the tools he gives us get returned to him intact. They will help to decided what special projects we will work on at each work party besides just general maintenance (i.e.: spreading wood chips, raking leaves and picking up trash and poop).

We decided it would be easiest to start with once a month during the Winter on the first Sunday of every month from 10 am to approx 1pm.

This makes the first work party Sunday, February 5th - 10am.

The first The first big project to take care of at our maintenance meeting will be leveling the run. There is currently a hole in the middle and all of the chips are built up on the sides. We need to rake all of the chips down from the sides into the center to make a level area before we can add new chips.

We need to create a “driveway” at the back fence so that the snow fence can go flush against the concrete and not need to be held up by that log. Also, so that the city can drive their truck up into the park to dump chips.

We have communicated to the park that we do not want pine chips from the Christmas trees because the dogs eat the pine and get sick. They will not dump pine anymore.

  • Development Committee: The Point Person for the Development Committee is Hilary (Eliott). Other Development Committee Members are Loretta (Wormer), Chad (Machiavelli & Tenzin), Elizabeth & Chris (Grady), Christine (Valencia).

The Development Committee will be in charge of paperwork and raising money for the run. There is a grant offered by the Parks Department for up to $5,000. The Deadline for this grant is February 1st. We need to make this application our first priority. We can use “NYC Dog” as our fiscal sponsor for non-profit status. We will need to discuss and decide if we want to eventually become non-profit ourselves. A longer term goal will be to budget out specific items that we want for the park like permanent fencing and deciding how best to raise funds for these larger goals. If we do get a grant we will need to work with the “Projects” committee to decide how to spend the money based on which project is a priority.

  • Projects Committee: The Point person for the Projects committee is Briana (Banjo & Jasmine). Other Projects Committee Members are: John (Spike), Chad (Machiavelli & Tenzin), Elizabeth & Chris (Grady), Kat (Kayla).

The Projects Committee will be in charge of creating a list of things we need to do and get beyond regular maintenance, i.e.: message board, benches, doggie bag dispensers, “rat wire” along fences to keep small dogs in, loading area for small dog park, permanent fencing, etc.

They will need to determine which project is most important and how best to go about getting it done. Can we get it donated? Will we have to raise money for it? If so, how much will it cost and how should we go about raising the money (ask for donations, grant $, hold a fundraiser, etc.). The Projects committee will work closely with the Development Committee in making decisions on how to get money and what to spend it on.

  • Safety Concerns: The issue of safety came up a few times. It is very important to everyone to make our Dog Run as safe as possible but we don’t want to police it so stringently that no one is having fun anymore. We want to find a balance.

Small Dogs/Large Dogs: One basic way to make the Dog Run safer is to make a separate area for small and large dogs. We need to put “rat wire” up along all of the fences to keep small dogs and woodchips in. We also need to create a “loading dock” for the small dog run so that dogs can’t scoot in and out as easily.

There was a concern that right now the small run is used by dogs who are in heat or are not playing well with the other dogs in the larger run. This is helpful to owners who’s dogs are having a rough day and still need to get energy out and run off leash. No ultimate conclusion was made but Kerry from the parks dept. did mention that the general consensus from the other dog runs in the city is that the small dog run is for small dogs. If a dog is having an aggressive day, then it has to miss out on coming to the dog run. We discussed creating a schedule for the small run so that it can be shared. We also discussed the possibility of just using our discretion on a case by case basis, sharing the small dog run but giving small dogs first refusal, i.e.: if the small dog run is not being used by a small dog or dogs, then a larger dog could use it but if a small dog or dogs come and want to use it, then that dog would have to leave.

Aggressive Dogs/Irresponsible Owners: There were many concerns about dogs who are in heat or dogs that are aggressive and who start fights coming into the dog run. The problem is that the Dog Run is a public space and no one has the absolute authority to throw anyone out. The safest thing to do is just take your dog out when you see an aggressive dog coming in. However, there is power in numbers and because we are now an official organization, we can support each other in talking calmly to dog owners about not bringing their aggressive dog to the run.

There are rules posted outside of the Run which state very specifically that dogs who are in heat should not be in the run and that dogs who are aggressive should not be in the Run. It is possible to point these rules out to an owner with an aggressive dog. This should be handled in a very careful way and on a case by case basis. Don’t confront someone that seems like they could be dangerous. We should communicate to each other. If a certain owner or dog is dangerous, spread the word so that they feel pressure to do something about it (like leave and not come back).

Not all dogs will get along: Even responsible dog owners will have problems with their dogs getting into fights. This is something we just have to accept. The best thing we can do is pay attention to our dogs and watch them at all times. It’s very easy to get lost talking on a cell phone, talking to another dog owner, reading a paper, etc., while our dogs are getting into a potentially dangerous situation. Let’s help each other to remain aware and mindful of our dogs at all times. It doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to each other! Just stay alert.

  • Website/E-Mail:

John (Spike) has routed the blog site to

It’s up and running now, so check it out for updates!

We are in the process of creating a list serve through Google so that everyone will have the power to post to the group without making their personal e-mail address public. More on this to come.

Thanks to everyone for a great meeting! If you were not able to come or had to leave early, please e-mail and let us know which committee you would like to join (Maintenance, Development, Projects). We will forward your contact info onto the committee point person.

The next meeting will take place on a need-to-have it basis. In the meantime, committee point persons should organize a meeting with their individual committee’s to get the ball rolling. Hilary (Eliott) will send out an e-mail to each individual committee point person with the contact information for your committee members. Look out for that.