In a corner of J. Hood Wright Park in Washington Heights, you will find a little getaway for dogs. It's also where you'll likely find the latest New Yorker of the Week. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Retired electrician Tony Speranza doesn't get paid to maintain a dog run inside J. Hood Wright Park, but he does whatever it takes to keep things running.
"It means the world to me," he says. "It means that the dogs in the neighborhood, my dogs, can run around, get recreation and play with each other, and basically be a dog for an hour a day."
Five years ago, the run was run down. Tony lobbied the Department of Parks and Recreation for funding, and he got it. It now has a stronger fence with a concrete foundation, a water fountain and better gravel for the dogs.
Tony’s efforts didn't stop there. He doesn't own any dogs anymore, but he makes sure the run is in the best shape possible for his four-legged friends in the neighborhood. He addresses concerns at community board meetings and defends the run's presence in the park. There's a monthly breakfast and a costume party every Halloween. He's created a community in the Heights.
"Community merchants, dog owners, people in the community have a sense of pride about being together and working in a true collaborative way, and we owe that to Tony," says Janet Wise-Thomas, a friend of the J. Hood Wright Park Dog Run.
Of course, if you ask Tony, he says he doesn't do much at all.
"I change the garbage and clean up a little," he says.
Friends of the dog run, though, will agree to disagree.
"No, no, no. Tony's here every day making sure the dog run is kept up and maintained," says Jenny Goldstein, a friend of the J. Hood Wright Park Dog Run. "He's the reason that we have this beautiful dog run."
So, for his tireless efforts to support his neighbors and their best friends Tony Speranza is our New Yorker of the Week.