“The obstacles are fun and great exercise,” said Connor Markiavicz, 17, who was guiding his six-month-old pup, Cooper, through a plastic tunnel, using hand gestures and patience. Dogs are not the only ones socializing, here. Markiavicz was at the park with a friend, Talia Nevarra, 15, and her four-month-old pup, Junior.
“He’s a Pitbull so he needs to be socialized,” said Nevarra, who was easily guiding Junior through the course, even though Junior seemed to be following Cooper more than his human handler.
An upgrade and alternative
The upgrades to Dennis Collins Park are noticeable. The new dog park combines two old dog parks into one, which were basically fenced-in areas where residents can let their dogs off the leash. For a time, some took their dogs up to a dog park built in 2013 at Stephen R. Gregg Park. But for many, that park, which is covered with gravel and features only large non-interactive rocks in the center, doesn’t compare to the new one in Bergen Point.
“It’s too dusty and rocky up there. You had to clean your dog every time,” said Tom Montagne, 29, of 6th Street, who was at the park with his dog, Brody, 4. Aside from being closer and more convenient, the Dennis Collins Park dog run is more suitable for Brody, a rescue dog.
“He gets anxiety, so it’s more for the exercise,” Montagne said. “I have a baby at home, so he doesn’t get as much attention.”
Dog parks may be no substitute for dog walking, because many breeds need more exercise than they might get in a fenced-in space. The worst dog at a dog park often is the one with the most energy.
One family with a three-year-old rat terrier named Abby was patiently waiting at the gate. “We have to be careful because there are bigger dogs,” said Kylie Iskra, 5. Abby was greeted by the bigger Cooper and Junior at the gate, but the family ultimately left and continued on their walk through the park, which is improving in other ways as well.
Obstacles similar to agility courses at dog shows are scattered throughout the park.
Tennis courts are slated to be resurfaced, a new volleyball court will be constructed, and much of the old playground equipment throughout the park will be replaced. Fitness stations were installed along the waterfront near the dog park and are now open for use.On days when it’s not too cold or raining, joggers and other park-goers can be seen getting in a quick workout within full view of the Kill Van Kull and Bayonne Bridge.
The improvements, which cost $1.7 million, came as part of $2 million pledged by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s “Raise the Roadway” project, which raised the Bayonne Bridge’s navigational clearance by 64 feet. The funds are allocated to improve the quality of life in the area affected by the project. Dennis Collins Park improvements will be made in phases, starting from the Bayonne Bridge and finishing at Gorman Field.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.