On Monday, Oct. 24, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed into law Leg. John Kennedy's bill to create a dog park in Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown! Levy's signature comes less than 30 days after the Suffolk Legislature approved the dog park bill by an overwhelming, bipartisan 17-0 vote.
The creation of a dog park at Blydenburgh would make it the third off-leash area in the county parks system after Coindre Hall and West Hills Park. And, given Blydenburgh's size (627 acres), the dog park likely will be one of the largest on Long Island.
This is great news for dog owners! Blydenburgh is a beautiful park with lots of hiking trails, several large, open fields, towering woods, a pond to walk around, and campgrounds for campouts with our pups! In addition, it's easy to get to-the main entrance is off Vet's Highway in Smithtown; there are bathrooms and running water; and it's open year round.
The bill to create a dog park at Blydenburgh was sponsored by Leg. John Kennedy of Smithtown who moved swiftly and decisively to push the legislation through. It was only in mid-June that Leg. Jon Cooper of Huntington told LI-DOG Leg. Kennedy intended to sponsor a resolution to create a dog park in Blydenburgh. The resolution was introduced in early August.
In announcing unanimous passage of his bill (there was one abstention), Leg. Kennedy noted, "our county parks need to serve a broad range of interests and activities" and that adding a dog park in Blydenburgh "will enhance" the park "for the benefit of even more Suffolk residents." There are an estimated 500,000 dog owners in Suffolk County.
He also stated that costs for developing and maintaining the park should be minimal-"not more than the cost of materials to fence in the parcel" and that "there is ample room for a sizeable dog run" in Blydenburgh.
A specific site for the off-leash area has yet to be determined, although members of LI-DOG have begun to assess potential areas for off-leash activities. Ultimately, the siting of the dog park will be the subject of discussions between Leg. Kennedy, the Parks Department, and Suffolk dog owners.
The passage of this bill is significant in that it shows that dog parks are now clearly an issue that crosses party lines-Leg. Cooper who has worked tirelessly on our behalf is a Democrat and he now is joined in this latest, significant effort by Leg. Kennedy who is a Republican.
We need to thank not only Leg. Kennedy, but also the six members of the legislature's Parks Committee, who gave this initiative their unanimous support. We thank especially the chair, Jay Schneiderman of Southampton, and Jon Cooper who both spoke up for our interests when concerns were raised about finding space for us in Blydenburgh.
We also need to thank our long-time LI-DOG member, Pam Schmidlin. Pam worked tirelessly on our behalf by meeting with Leg. Kennedy, his staff, and other local government officials on a regular basis and by gathering thousands of signatures on petitions from across the county.
A few months from now, when we're enjoying the Blydenburgh dog park with our dogs and with our fellow dog owners, we can all thank Pam!
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