Chelsea Park Dog Run: ‘Neighborhood’s Furry Friends Will Enjoy Using It,’ Assures Parks Dept.

With a fresh coat of paint courtesy of Parks, the eastern wall of the handball court is primed for its new leash on life–as a permanent dog run. | Photo by Scott Stiffler

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (Parks) has confirmed that an area of West Chelsea howling for a place to put pooches through their paces will soon see a dog run find its Forever Home.

After months of hearing pro and con testimony from the public, a letter approved on March 1 by the full board of Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4) paved the way for Parks to convert three of the six handball courts in Chelsea Park (W. 27th to 28th St., 9th to 10th Ave.) into a permanent dog run.

File photo of the Penn South Dog Run courtesy of Shelli Rosen.

The decision came on the heels (haunches?) of several meetings held by CB4’s Waterfront, Parks & Environment (WPE) committee, and its Full Board, during which CB4 membes (and often, Parks reps in attendance) heard from dozens of community members going all in—or gunning for—the long, narrow dog run in Penn South Park—installed as a temporary go-to while the Chelsea Waterside Park (CWP) run underwent repairs.

While some called for it to remain in perpetuity (noting mobility issues made the CWP run prohibitively distant), plenty of others—nearby Penn South residents as well as a 100-year-old nun living locally—said the barking’s volume and frequency made peace of mind an impossible prospect. CB4 sided with the latter POV—setting the stage for the Dog Run’s prompt closure but doubling down on efforts to explore Chelsea Park as a suitable heir (hair?) apparent.

“We’re pleased to bring a new dog run to Chelsea Park, responding to community requests for a safe and convenient permanent space for local pets to play. We’re sure the neighborhood’s furry friends will enjoy using it,” said NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner Anthony Perez. “We are happy to have been able to work with Council Member Erik Bottcher and Community Board 4 in bringing this project to fruition.”

The eastern side of the handball courts, before its recent fresh coat of paint. | CCNews file photo by Scott Stiffler

The Parks plan calls for the installation to separate and convert the eastern half of Chelsea Park’s handball courts into a dog run, preserving courts on the wall’s west side. Benches and wind screens also will be installed.

The new mutt mecca will also feature a double-gate entrance, which creates a buffer between the outside world and the actual dog run; a place where dogs can decompress and acclimate to the off-leash lush life they’re about to experience. Descried by Parks on the web page for the recently upgraded Chelsea Waterside [Park] Dog Run as a “double-gated safety vestibule,” this multi-tasking middle ground will be installed only after construction is completed in the adjacent basketball court area. Until then, the dog run will have a temporary entrance. Unfortunately, because of the limited amount of space available, a separate section for small dogs is not part of the plan.

That could be a bone of conention, as CB4 and potential dog run patrons have been vocal about their desire to draw a line (literally) between the Teacup Chihuahua crowd and Bullmastiff boosters. That’s not to say that size alone is a recipe for conflict; our TikTok feed is full of fast friendships between creatures great and small. Still, a WPE-generated letter anticipating a Chelsea Park dog run noted, “This dog run should be safe and welcoming to dogs of all sizes. Therefore, we ask that Parks incorporate a seperate space for small dogs to safely utilize.” Addressed to Parks’ Manhattan Borough Commissioner Anthony Perez, the letter was approved by CB4’s full board at their March 1 meeting.

Creating stand-alone spaces for small and large dogs was also an oft-mentioned request when Chelsea Community News interviewed tenants at 426 West 27th Street, a building that is part of Elliott-Chelsea (NYCHA) Houses, standing in close proximity to the dog run’s location. Jessica Rodriguez, who has two small dogs, wholeheartedly supported the idea of a dog run but asked that the small dogs be separated from the larger ones. Barring this feature, she reasoned that large and small breeds can split their time in the park. A woman in her 20s who did not wish to be identified told us she would love a dog run, but would not feel safe bringing her small dog if it means sharing the same space with large breed dogs. To read that full report, click here.

This matter is expected to remain on the radar of CB4, via its WPE committee—and Parks, while appearing before CB4, has been vocal about incorporating community feedback into what ultimately becomes policy and practice. (Volunteers, they’ve noted, are vital partners in the daily practice of opening, closing, and maintaining the facility.)

One thing is for certain—work has already begun. When Chelsea Community News paid a visit to the future home for rambunctious Rovers and feisty Fidos, Parks had already given both sides of the handball court a fresh coat of paint. Weather permitting, installation of the fencing and benches is expected to begin in mid-May.

NOTE: The final five paragraphs reflect new information provided by Parks later in the day, after this article’s initial May 11 publication.

A fresh coat of paint, courtesy of Parks, on what will be the one side of the wall still hosting handball courts. The dog run will be located on the other side. | Photo by Scott Stiffler


Chelsea Community News is an independent, hyperlocal news, arts, events, info, and opinion website made possible with the help of our awesome advertisers and the support of our readers. Our Promise: Never a paywall, no pop-up ads, all content is FREE. With that in mind, if circumstances allow, please consider taking part in our GoFundMe campaign (click here). To make a direct donation, give feedback, send a Letter to the Editor, or contact our founder/editor, send an email to Scott Stiffler, via

To join our subscriber list, click here. It’s a free service provding regular (weekly, at least) Enewsletters containing links to recently published content. Subscribers also will be sent email with “Sponsored Content” in the subject line. That means it’s an exclusive message from one of our advertisers, whose support, like yours, allows us to offer all content free of charge.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login