Puppies in East Hills, be warned.
The dog park, as well as the park’s playgrounds and upper parking lot, is closed as the village demolishes a building on the hill to make room for a new indoor sports facility.
Eliminating the dilapidated relic of the Air National Guard is the first step of a project Mayor Michael Koblenz announced in December to create an athletic facility that he said will make the park more cold weather-friendly.
The demolition is a two-week project, but the end date depends on how the weather holds up, Koblenz said.
“I’m excited we’re moving forward with a new project that will benefit all the residents and their children,” he said.
The vacant building was in a hazardous state of disrepair, Koblenz said in December. It was one of the last remnants of the park’s previous identity: an Air National Guard base.
The indoor sports facility Koblenz hopes to build would increase park use in the winter, the mayor said. Plans are in the early stages, but the center could potentially host sports such as basketball and volleyball as well as party rooms and fitness equipment, he said.
The village Board of Trustees did not devote funding in its 2019-20 budget for the facility.
The hill where the demolition is taking place may be leveled out to accommodate the new athletic facility, but the logistics of that will depend on what engineers advise, the mayor said.
The 50-acre park was previously part of a 250-acre base established during World War II to house an air defense mission, according to an article about the history of the station in the Bryant Library’s archives.
An air division used the base during the Korean War. The federal government bought the land in 1953 and much of it was sold to residential developers.
In 1959, however, the remaining 50 acres were reworked into an Air National Guard base. Five units trained there and 34 buildings were constructed on the property, Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jan Klebukowski, who was stationed at the base beginning in 1988, wrote in the article.
The government closed the base in 1995 and the Village of East Hills purchased it in 2000. The village put $17 million into creating the park, which was completed in 2006 under Koblenz’s leadership.
Summer park amenities, including the outdoor pool, are scheduled to open May 25.
In preparation, the pool is currently being repainted, Koblenz said.