Latest News Archive


11/19/2020 – Heckscher Park Vote Nov. 19th!

Vote to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park For Good Set for Thurs., Nov. 19th!

 

Vote Comes On the Heels of an Almost Year-long Successful Pilot Program

Moose by the Pond in Heckscher Park Photo Credit: Johanna King

A resolution to finally add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy is up for a vote by the Huntington Town Board on Thurs., Nov. 19th! The vote, which will take place at a virtual meeting starting at 2 p.m., comes almost a year after the successful launch and operation of a pilot program in Huntington’s premiere community park.

The resolution to add Heckscher Park to the town’s dog-friendly parks policy is sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol. Councilwoman Cergol has championed allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park ever since an online petition asking for on-leash access to the park quickly gathered more than 2,500 signatures last fall.  In October 2019, Councilwoman Cergol introduced and the Town Board approved a resolution to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park on a pilot program basis.

At the Nov. 4th Public Hearing on this latest resolution–which went smoothly with no one speaking in opposition–LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn noted that not only has the pilot program operated successfully through all four seasons of the year now, “but the policy of allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park has gained broad support among dog owners and the community. Even people who were initially uncomfortable about allowing on-leash dogs in Heckscher Park, “ she said, “now support making the policy permanent as dog owners are following the rules and the pilot program has been responsive to any issues raised by local residents.”

In a key development, the proposal to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park for good has gained the unanimous support of the Huntington Greenway Trails Committee on which LI-DOG serves and which in 2017 recommended that the Town open virtually all its parks to on-leash dog walking.  At the time, the Trails Committee recommended exempting Heckscher Park from the broad policy because of concerns about overcrowding in the park. Now, however, as the Chair of the Committee noted in an email to the Town Board, “The Huntington Greenway Trails Committee…unanimously agree[s] that the on-leash dog walking program at Heckscher Park has been extremely successful [and] supports…a change in the town code to allow on-leash dog walking in Heckscher Park.”

In its email to the Town Board Urging Support for Adding Heckscher to its Dog Friendly Parks Policy, LI-DOG noted that much of the credit for the success of the pilot program should go to the Oversight Committee formed by Councilwoman Cergol late last year, which includes volunteer Park Ambassadors (dog owners who volunteered to help public education efforts in the park), representatives from organizations like the Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities and representatives from Huntington’s Dept. of  Public Safety and the Division of Animal Control. The Committee was responsible for monitoring the pilot program and making adjustments based on input from the community.

Whenever issues were brought to the attention of Councilwoman Cergol and the committee, Park Ambassadors would step up public education efforts in the park to make sure everyone knew what the new rules were. Thank you so much to all the Park Ambassadors who committed their time to making sure the pilot program was successful!

The results of these efforts and the effects of the pilot program on Heckscher Park are summarized in the final Park Ambassadors Report submitted by Karen Thomas, creator of the petition that made the pilot program possible, and LI-DOG. Among the key findings:

  • Dog owners have been responsible about picking up after their dogs and dog waste is not a problem.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence.
  • The dog population is consistently low—usually under 6 dogs throughout the park at any one time.
  • There have been no complaints in recent months about dog owners failing to yield to others on the paths.
  • Complaints about dogs on benches were addressed by updating the rules prohibiting dogs on benches.
  • Goose droppings on the paths have been reduced because of the presence of leashed dogs.
  • Park ambassadors continue to receive very positive feedback from dog owners about how happy and grateful they are to enjoy Heckscher Park with their canine companions. As Park Ambassador Johanna King put it, “In addition to meeting neighbors and making new friends, I’ve become healthier and created an amazing routine with my dog (that’s Moose in the photo above). For the first time since moving to Huntington, I feel a sense of belonging here.”

The bottom line is that the on-leash dog walking program in Heckscher Park has been a success and Heckscher Park should be added to the town’s broad dog-friendly parks policy, the report’s authors conclude.

Dog owners need to be aware that restrictions on dogs, both leashed and unleashed, remain in place for specific areas of town parks. Among these are:

  • All playgrounds
  • Picnic areas
  • Park benches
  • Active recreation areas such as tennis courts and sports fields
  • All town camp or licensed education areas
  • Beaches, except for paved areas and boardwalks, and
  • The temporarily fenced area around Heckscher Park’s Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage during performances. This last restriction has been added to the proposed change in the Town Code as a result of the licensing agreement the Town has with the Huntington Arts Council. Dog owners are still allowed to bring leashed dogs outside the temporary fencing.

How You Can Help:  If you have not already done so, please email the Town Board and urge the Board to add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy! Even if you don’t own dog, let them know how great it is to see people walking their leashed dogs in the park! At this point, simply send your email to Town Clerk Andrew Raia at araia@huntingtonny.gov. His office will distribute all communication they receive to the Town Board members.

Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 


10/26/2020 – Public Hearing Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park Nov. 4th

 

Photo Credit: Johanna King

Public Hearing Nov. 4th on Proposal to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park For Good!

Please Email or Call the Town Board TODAY in Support of Turning the Heckscher Park Pilot Program into a Permanent Part of Huntington’s Dog-Friendly Parks Policy!

 

A public hearing to consider adding Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy will be held on Wed., Nov. 4th starting at 7 p.m. on Zoom. The resolution introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and seconded by Councilman Eugene Cook builds on a pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park that has been in place since Jan. 1st and has now operated successfully through all four seasons of the year.

LI-DOG is asking dog owners to please email or call the members of the Huntington Town Board TODAY (contact information below), let them know how you feel about being able to walk your dog on-leash in Heckscher Park, and urge them to add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy! Even if you or your family members don’t own a dog right now, let the Town Board know how great it is to see pups in the park.  (Read LI-DOG’s Email to Town Board Support Adding Heckscher to Dog Friendly Parks Policy.)

People are also invited to speak at the Public Hearing by Zoom. To sign up to speak, go to Agenda Huntington Town Board Meeting Nov. 4, 2020. The link to sign up to speak is at the VERY TOP of the agenda. For more information, go to Town Board Meeting Online Public Hearing Process.

Please Note:  It is extremely important that the Town Board hear from our supporters to counteract any possible opposition to the resolution!

The resolution states that when the Town Board adopted uniform park standards to allow on-leash dog walking in Town parks in 2017, it exempted Heckscher Park from the town’s dog-friendly parks policy. In late 2019, however, after an online petition gathered more than 2,500 signatures asking for access to the park, the Town Board approved Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution to allow on-leash dog walking on a pilot program basis. Now, after almost a year during which the pilot program has been monitored by an Oversight Committee chaired by Councilwoman Cergol, which includes representatives from Huntington’s Dept. of  Public Safety, the Division of Animal Control, LI-DOG, volunteer Park Ambassadors, and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, and adjustments have been made to the pilot program in response to any issues raised by the community, the committee recommends that the Town Board permanently allow on-leash dogs in Heckscher Park.

A final report on the pilot program submitted by Karen Thomas, creator of the petition that made the pilot program possible, and LI-DOG on behalf of the volunteer Park Ambassadors summarizes the pilot program’s results. Among the key findings:

  • Dog waste is not a problem. Dog owners have been responsible about picking up after their dogs.
  • The dog population is consistently low—usually under 6 dogs throughout the park at any one time.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence.
  • There have been no complaints lately about dog owners failing to yield to others on the paths.
  • Complaints about dogs on benches have been resolved by updating the rules to include a new rule that dogs are not allowed on park benches.
  • Goose droppings on the paths have been reduced because of the presence of leashed dogs.
  • New Signs stating No Dogs Allowed in the Playground have been installed to help clarify the rules.
  • Plantings and flowers throughout the park remain vibrant indicating no ill effects from the presence of dogs.
  • Park ambassadors continue to receive very positive feedback from dog owners about how happy and grateful they are they can enjoy Heckscher Park with their canine companions.
  • Even people who initially expressed reservations about allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park now support extending the policy as dog owners are following the rules.

The bottom line, according to the Park Ambassadors’ Report, is that the leashed dog pilot program has been successful and should be made a permanent part of Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy.

Dog owners need to remember restrictions on dogs, both leashed and unleashed, remain in place for specific areas of town parks. Among these are:

  • All playgrounds
  • Picnic areas
  • Park benches
  • Active recreation areas such as tennis courts and sports fields
  • All town camp or licensed education areas
  • Beaches, except for paved areas and boardwalks, and
  • The temporarily fenced area around Heckscher Park’s Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage during performances. This last restriction has been added to the proposed change in the Town Code as a result of the licensing agreement the Town has with the Huntington Arts Council. Dog owners are still allowed to bring leashed dogs outside the temporary fencing.

How You Can Help: The Park Ambassadors’ Report includes great testimonials from people who love being able to walk their dogs and see dogs in the park; but we need more testimonials. (To see what people wrote in the July Park Ambassadors Report, go to Testimonials from Parkgoers.) If you think walking your leashed dogs in Heckscher Park is great and want the policy to become permanent, send a two or three-sentence testimonial  ASAP to lidog_news@yahoo.com.

NOW, please help make the leashed dog pilot program in Heckscher Park a permanent part of Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy! Email or call the Members of the Huntington Town Board below TODAY!

Don’t forget to send a copy to Town Clerk Andrew Raia at araia@huntingtonny.gov as well to make sure your email becomes part of the public record. 

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone (631) 351-3030, Email clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone (631) 351-3173, Email JCergol@huntingtonny.gov  (Remember to thank Councilwoman Cergol for all her work on behalf of dog owners!)

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall,  100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone (631) 351-3172, Email MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone (631) 351-3175, Email ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone (631) 351-3174, Email ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov (Let Councilman Cook know how much you appreciate his support for the resolution!)

 

Thank you for your support!


07/30/2020 – Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Extended Thru 2020

 

Allison Tuch Palmer and Her Pups Photo Credit: Sue Toomey Johnson

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extended Through Year End 2020!

Thanks to everyone who emailed and called in support of leashed dogs in Heckscher Park!

 

In a decision that allows people to walk their dogs on-leash in Heckscher Park through the end of the year, the Huntington Town Board voted unanimously July 21st to extend the Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program through Dec. 2020. The decision came on a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol who has championed the pilot program and was co-sponsored by Councilman Eugene Cook. Thank you, Councilwoman Cergol and all your colleagues on the Huntington Town Board, for supporting the pilot program! (If you’d like to thank the Town Board, see contact information below.)

Thank you, also, to our colleague Karen Thomas who started the petition that made the pilot program possible and now leads the volunteer Park Ambassadors who spread the word about the plot program in the park and the rules designed to make sure the program continues to be successful. Thank you Park Ambassadors: Michelle Troiano Dodd, Wendy Tullo (who also spoke at the Town Board meeting by Zoom), Sharyn Julino, Laurence Foray, Erich Preis, Elizabeth Madden, Loary Milanese Gunn and Michelle Factor Noonan!

In addition, thank you to all our fellow dog owners and Huntington residents who emailed and called the Town Board in support of leashed dogs in Heckscher Park. We were told the Town Board received “numerous emails” in support of the pilot program. Thank you, all!!

Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution was accompanied by a Report from the Park Ambassadors, which made the following key points:

  • Dog owners are following the rules by picking up after their dogs and keeping them on-leash.
  • The daily dog population is low—typically under 10 dogs throughout the park at any time—and is expected to remain low during the hot summer months and while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place and large scale events are not permitted.
  • The paths are cleaner as goose droppings have been reduced due to the presence of dogs.
  • Most non-dog owners seem happy with dogs in the park and any earlier trepidation has evolved into acceptance of the program.
    •  Key to that development has been the responsiveness of an Oversight Committee convened by Councilwoman Cergol and her staff which includes representatives from LI-DOG, volunteer Park Ambassadors, the Town’s Public Safety and Animal Control division, and representatives from the Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities. The members of the Oversight Committee have been responsive to any and all issues raised by the community and will continue to closely monitor the pilot program, the resolution noted. “Councilwoman Cergol has done a terrific job responding to any issues that might interfere with the success of the pilot program,” LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn noted.

The report also includes half a dozen testimonials from park goers in support of allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park. To read these great comments, go to Testimonials from Parkgoers.

Finally, the Park Ambassadors Report includes the recommendation that the one-way signs around the pond, which were put in place to facilitate social distancing, be reversed so that they reflect the direction people typically walk—counterclockwise starting at Madison Street. The one-ways signs and continuing efforts by Park Ambassadors to encourage people not to congregate on the paths should result in better compliance with social distancing guidelines, noted LI-DOG in an Email to the Town Board Support Resolution thru Year End.

LI-DOG is asking all dog owners to please remember to yield to other park goers on the paths, as specified in the  Rules for Heckscher Dog Pilot Program, and to avoid congregating on the path so that others may pass safely. Thank you for your help!

If you haven’t already thanked the members of the Huntington Town Board for their support for the leashed dog pilot program, email or call them today!

Huntington Town Board Member Contacts:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3030 clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173 JCergol@huntingtonny.gov (Thank Councilwoman Cergol for all her work on behalf of dog owners!)

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3174 ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3172 MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3175 ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

 

Thank you for your support!


07/08/2020 – Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Up for Vote!

 

Allison Tuch Palmer with Andi and AJay Photo Credit: Sue Toomey Johnson

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extension Up for Vote July 21st!

 

Please Support the Resolution to Renew the Pilot Program Thru Year End 2020

After more than six months of successful operation, the pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Huntington’ s Heckscher Park is up for renewal at the Tues., July 21st Huntington Town Board Meeting. At the meeting, which will be held virtually at 7 p.m. and allow public comments, the Town Board will vote on extending the pilot program for five more months through the end of 2020. Until now, the renewals have run for three months or less.

The resolution to extend the pilot program is being introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol who has led the effort to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park on the Town Board. The resolution notes that the pilot program has already been renewed by the Town Board three times and that an oversight committee consisting of Town representatives, LI-DOG, volunteer Park Ambassadors, and other organizations has been responsive to any and all issues raised by the community. The members of the oversight committee support extending the pilot program through the end of the year, notes an accompanying report. (Read LI-DOG’s Email to Town Board Support Resolution thru YearEnd.)

Dog owners are happy and grateful to be able to enjoy Heckscher Park with their four-legged companions, added LI-DOG and colleague Karen Thomas, leader of the Park Ambassadors who hand out flyers and spread the word about the pilot program to other dog owners. Among their key points:

  • The pilot program has been running smoothly over each of its renewal periods.
  • Dog owners are following the rules including picking up after their dogs and keeping them on-leash. (Get the Card Flyer with Rules.)
  • The paths are cleaner as goose droppings have been reduced due to the presence of dogs.
  •  The daily dog population is low—typically under 10 dogs throughout the park at any time—and is expected to remain low during the hot summer months and while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place and large scale events are not permitted.
  • Any concerns raised by town residents will continue to be addressed by the oversight committee.

The report also includes half a dozen testimonials from parkgoers expressing their support for the pilot program. To see photos and read their terrific comments, go to Parkgoer Testimonials.

Want to add your voice to those who support leashed dogs in Heckscher Park? Email or call Huntington Town Board members today and let them know how YOU feel about being able to walk your dog on-leash in Huntington’s beautiful Heckscher Park! (See contact information below.)

The report also recommends that the one-way signs around the pond, which were put in place to facilitate social distancing, be reversed so that they reflect the direction people typically walk—counterclockwise starting at Madison Street.

As always, please remember to yield to other park goers on the path, as specified in the Rules for the Pilot Program, and avoid congregating on the path so others may pass safely.

What You Can Do: The pilot program is working well, but it’s very important Town Board members hear from those who support its extension. Let the Huntington Town Board know what it means to YOU to be able to enjoy Heckscher Park with your dog! Email or call the Huntington Town Board TODAY and urge them to support the extension of the Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program!

Huntington Town Board Member Contacts:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3030 clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173 JCergol@huntingtonny.gov (Remember to thank Councilwoman Cergol for all her work on behalf of dog owners!)

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3172 MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3175 ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3174 ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov

Thank you for your support!


04/02/2020 – Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extended

 

View over Pond Towards Trees in Heckscher Park

Photo Credit: Karen Thomas

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extended through June 30th!

 

By 5-0, the Huntington Town Board voted March 31st to extend the pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park until June 30th. The vote came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and seconded by Councilman Gene Cook at a Town Board meeting held virtually because of the coronovirus outbreak. The pilot program, which was created by a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Cergol last October, has been running successfully since Jan. 1st. It must be renewed every three months.

The pilot program runs in conjunction with a public education effort assisted by LI-DOG. That public education effort includes a cadre of volunteers in the park—park ambassadors—who hand out flyers with the rules for the pilot program and answer questions from dog owners and others.

In a letter urging the Town Board to support the extension of the pilot program, LI-DOG and Huntington dog owner and park ambassador Karen Thomas noted that the pilot program has been successful and is working as envisioned by the Town Board when it approved leashed dogs on a test basis last fall.

The letter notes that representatives from the Town’s Dept. of Public Safety and the Animal Control Division have reported their officers are doing their regular patrols and viewing live cameras in the park and there have been no problems with dogs. Those reports are supported by LI-DOG’s own reporting and notes from our and our park ambassadors’ almost daily visits to the park. That information is available in a summary report compiled by Thomas on behalf of LI-DOG. Among the key findings are:

  • Most dog owners are aware of the rules and/or have heard about the pilot program rules through news reports. (Get the Card Flyer with the Rules.)
  • Dog owners are following the rules and are willing to help pass the word about the rules to others.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence. During the first three months of the pilot program, park ambassadors saw only two or three dogs off-leash. Once dog owners were asked to comply with the rules, they did.
  • Dog waste is not a problem. Dog owners are being responsible about picking up after their dogs. Some dog or goose waste was found in the park a few times and was picked up by park ambassadors.
  • Goose droppings have been reduced and the paths appear cleaner because of the presence of dogs. This development will continue to be monitored as the weather turns warmer.
  • A concern about dogs on park benches has been addressed with a new rule that dogs are not permitted on any benches in Heckscher Park.
  • The dog population is not excessive. Generally, we have observed three to ten dog owners and their dogs in the park at any one time.

Other observations:  

  • Many dog owners have told park ambassadors how happy and excited they are to be able to bring their dogs to Heckscher Park and they are hoping the pilot program will be renewed.
  • Families with small children and dogs in tow are now able to enjoy the park together.
  • Senior citizens and others who used to have to walk their dogs on nearby busy streets are now able to walk their dogs in the park, which is safer.
  • Even on cold, gray days in January and February when the park normally would have been deserted, two or three people can be seen walking their dogs.
  • Many of us have met new friends and neighbors in the park as a result of our mutual interest and affection for dogs.

The report notes that some dog owners do need to be reminded to keep the paths clear and allow others to pass when they are distracted or talking to other dog owners. That is especially true now given the social distancing rules—a minimum of 6’ apart from other people– to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. LI-DOG said it will refocus its public education efforts on reminding people not to congregate on the paths going forward.

The letter also recommended a few additional steps to enhance the pilot program.

  1. Specific “No Dogs Allowed” signs on the gates to the playground. (Councilwoman Cergol’s aides have already confirmed these signs will be added.
  2.  Brochure dispensers installed on or near the dog waste bag stations. This is a recommendation from the representative for the Citizens Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities. This is a good idea, so even if volunteer park ambassadors are not in the park handing out flyers, people can take a flyer any time and see the rules.
  3. The dog waste bag stations need to be monitored and refilled on a regular basis (probably once a month) as we have noticed the dispensers have been empty a few times. While dog owners are expected to bring their own waste bags on their walks, providing waste bags on a consistent basis is a good incentive to clean up for anyone who forgets to bring a bag.

 

In closing, LI-DOG and Thomas noted that dog owners are excited and happy with the pilot program. Given how important being able to walk their dogs in Heckscher Park is, and aided by the ongoing public education effort, “we are confident we will continue to see good compliance with the rules. We urge [the Town Board] to support the extension of the pilot program,” the email concludes. (Read the full LI-DOG Email Please Support Heckscher Park Pilot Program Extension.)

What You Can Do:  Please help make sure the pilot program continues to work successfully this spring. Make sure to follow the rules: pick up after your dogs, keep dogs on-leash and under control (maximum 6-ft and no retractables); yield to other park users on the paths; and keep dogs off the benches.

Moreover, please pay special attention to the rules in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically the rules requiring everyone to maintain a distance from other people of at least 6 feet. That means no congregating on the pathways and no blocking other people’s ability to social distance as well.

Finally, if you appreciate having the opportunity to walk your dog in Heckscher Park, especially at this time of unprecedented concern and social isolation, let Councilwoman Cergol and other members of the Town Board know. It’s important they hear from people who support allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park!

Huntington Town Board members to call or send emails to with your support for the Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3030 clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173 JCergol@huntingtonny.gov Please thank Councilwoman Cergol for her continuing leadership on this initiative!

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall,  100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3172 MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3175 ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3174 ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov

Thank you for your help!

 

 


03/19/2020 – Heckscher Park Pilot Program Up for Renewal

 

Photo Credit: Karen Thomas

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Up for Renewal on March 31st

Support the Resolution to Renew the Pilot Program!

The pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park is up for renewal on March 31st! A resolution to extend the program from April 1st through June 30th will be introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol at the Huntington Town Board Meeting on Tues., March 31st. Please email or call the Huntington Town Board NOW and urge them to support the extension of the pilot program! (See contact info below.)

Councilwoman Cergol sponsored the resolution that created the pilot program, which has been running successfully since Jan. 1st. (To read more about the program and why the Town Board approved leashed dogs on a trial basis, go to Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!)

The pilot program has been going well with no problems reported by the Town’s Public Safety and Animal Control officers. Any minor issues brought to the attention of the program’s oversight committee, which includes Councilwoman Cergol and her staff as well as representatives from LI-DOG have been addressed, according to the resolution. For example, one concern about dogs sitting on park benches meant for people has been addressed with a proposed new rule that dogs are not allowed on the benches.

LI-DOG’s experience is that dog owners are happy and excited about finally being able to walk their dogs in Huntington’s main community park and they are hoping the program will be extended into the summer. A report submitted by Huntington dog owner Karen Thomas on behalf of LI-DOG and the Park Ambassadors who hand out flyers and let dog owners know about the pilot program in the park notes:

  • Most dog owners are generally aware of the rules (To see the rules, get the Card Flyer Heckscher Pilot Program.)
  • Dog owners are following the rules and will pass the word on to others.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence.
  • Dog waste is not a problem.
  • Goose droppings on the paths appear to be reduced.
  • The dog population is not excessive, even on busy weekends.

One issue that needs more attention is that some dog owners need further education on keeping the paths clear and allowing others to pass, especially when distracted or talking to other dog owners. Also, some dog owners continue to use retractable leashes. The rule is dogs must be on a 6′ maximum leash, as people have been tripped up by retractables in the past. Please help spread the word about these issues to other dog owners!

What You Can Do: While the pilot program appears to be working well for all park users, it’s important that Town Board members hear from those of us who support leashed dogs in Heckscher Park. Please email or call Huntington Town Board members TODAY, tell them what it means to you and your dog to be able to walk in Heckscher Park, and urge them to support the extension of the pilot program!

Huntington Town Board members to call or send emails to with your support for the Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3030 clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173 JCergol@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3172 MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3175 ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3174 ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov

Thank you for your support!

 


12/3/2019 – President’s 2019 Annual Report

2019 Another Very Good Year for LI-DOG, Says President

The following is a modified version of the President’s 2019 Report to the LI-DOG Board of Directors

We played a key role in getting on-leash access to Heckscher Park—an important, long-standing goal for Huntington dog owners—and we played an important role in helping get a new dog park built in Bayville in the Town of Oyster Bay.
In addition, we organized 12 very successful dog-friendly events that not only raised critical financial resources, but also continued our reputation for fun, well-managed events for dog owners and their pups. Our finances are in great shape, and we got good media coverage this year, especially in Newsday, which helps spread the word about who we are and what we do.
In both successful attempts to get more access to parks, LI-DOG provided key knowledge and resources to campaigns started by other dog owners. In the case of Heckscher Park, a petition to get access to the park was started by a Huntington dog owner who runs her own PR firm. She already was doing a great job getting signatures on the petition and media coverage of the campaign. LI-DOG was able to strengthen the campaign by using our email list and social media to raise awareness of the effort and get more signatures on the petition. In addition, because LI-DOG is a formal member of the Huntington Trails Committee, our communications to Town officials in favor of access had added credibility. The petition itself and the fact that it got over 2,000 signatures in a few short weeks was key, but we played an important role in organizing dog owners and making the case for access.
Similarly, when a dog owner from Bayville reached out to LI-DOG for help with her and her colleagues’ efforts to get a dog park there, we were able to step in and provide important resources to the effort. At the time she contacted us, the effort was facing pushback from Village officials on the environmental impact of the dog park. We were able to send over reams of documents showing that dog parks do not harm the environment. The organizers were already terrific advocates for the cause, but we were able to provide critical information when they needed it.
While LI-DOG did not start either of these two campaigns, the role we played was important. These campaigns represent a natural evolution of our role and our organization’s purpose. Because of our experience and resources, LI-DOG can provide the infrastructure on which other people’s campaigns for more access to parks can be built.
As far as what these two developments mean for the coming year, it means we should continue to make sure Long Island dog owners know we are available to help their efforts to get more access to parks and beaches. That means continuing to work to increase LI-DOG’s visibility in the media and among dog owners who are not already on our email list or our social media groups.
We also need to re-engage on our own campaign for more access to beaches. We have identified beaches at Gardiner Park in Suffolk County, Lido Beach West in Hempstead, and several New York State beaches as targets of opportunity. Some of these efforts may simply involve more phone calls and meetings with local officials, but the New York State campaign will likely require more work.
Our campaign for more access to beaches will need more engagement from all of us. It’s just too big an effort for one or two people to lead. It will require all of our organizing skills as well as more volunteers. Without those, this big goal of ours will not be met.
That being said, we should all be very proud of what LI-DOG has accomplished this year. Today, Long Island dog owners have more dog parks and more dog-friendly parks to enjoy than ever before. In addition to the dog park in Bayville, Suffolk County opened a new dog park in Gardiner Park and North Hempstead opened a dog park at Michael Tully Park. This situation is the result of more dog-friendly elected officials as well as years of our hard work and effort.
Before ending my remarks, I want to highlight the outstanding job our colleagues Marie Amsterdam and Joann Garguola have done with our events this year—more than 12, including 9 Pack Walks and 3 successful fundraisers. Their creativity, great organizational and communications skills, and their willingness to donate hours of their time have made our events not only popular with other dog owners, but also key to our ability to raise enough money to fulfill our mission. Thank you, Marie and Joann!
And, thank you to all of you [the LI-DOG Board of Directors] for continuing to contribute your time and resources to making 2019 another great year for LI-DOG!


12/30/2019 – Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs

Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!

 

Pilot program sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol includes educational campaign aided by LI-DOG 

 

The Pond at Huntington’s Heckscher Park

A pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park started January 1, 2020! The pilot program is the result of a resolution sponsored by Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol and passed unanimously by the Huntington Town Board on Oct. 16th, 2019. The resolution establishes a three-month pilot program with the expectation is that if the first three months are successful, the pilot will be extended for another three months and so on throughout the year.

In order to make sure the pilot program is a success, Councilwoman Cergol is working with the Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG) on an educational campaign to spread the word about common sense rules for the park.

The educational campaign includes:

  • An explanatory video featuring Councilwoman Cergol and her beautiful boxer, Dempsey. (See Councilwoman Cergol’s Video now.)
  • Detailed signage to be installed at all park entrances.
  • An at-a-glance card flyer detailing the rules.
  • A dedicated cadre of LI-DOG volunteers who will serve as ambassadors in the park, handing out the card and answering questions from dog owners and persons without dogs. (If you would like to serve as an LI-DOG park ambassador, email lidog_news@yahoo.com.)
  • Installation of dog waste bag dispensers at the park.

“The key to this program’s success is dog owners understanding what is allowed and respecting the rights of all people who want to enjoy Huntington’s signature park, both with and without dogs,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “That’s the main thrust of our educational campaign.”

“LI-DOG’s members understand that bringing their dogs to Heckscher is a privilege that we would like to see become permanent,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, LI-DOG’s president. “Our volunteers want to make sure that all dog owners understand their responsibility to make this program work.”

 

The rules, as noted in both the signage and the information card, require dog owners to:

  • Keep dogs on leash (maximum 6 feet) and under control. No retractable leashes.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of dog waste.
  • Yield to all other park goers on the paths by stepping off the path.
  • Keep dogs out of the playground, picnic areas and tennis courts and the ball field, when in use.
  • Keep dogs quiet during events at the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage.
  • Avoid wildlife for their safety and their dog’s.
  • Keep dogs out of the plantings and the pond.
  • Have dogs licensed and vaccinated.
  • Have no more than two dogs per handler.
  • Respect other park goers so the park is a good experience for everyone!

Park-goers with safety concerns are advised to call the Town’s 24-hour Public Safety number, 631-351-3234.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Heckscher Park and the rules established for this program should ensure that this remains the case,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “Please let us know about your experience with the 90-day dog-walking pilot program so that we can fully assess the success of this program at the end of March.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said, “Combining this pilot program with an educational campaign will give us the feedback from residents we need to ensure that everyone can enjoy the park.”

Councilman Eugene Cook said, “Over the years many people have reached out to the Town Board asking to remove the Heckscher Park ban on allowing dogs in the park.  As these residents would like to enjoy using Heckscher Park with their families, including their canine companions, as they have been able to do at other locations without incident for years.  As a dog owner, I understand the strong relationship between an owner and their companion. This pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park will build on those relationships, and it will also be a benefit for our community as a whole.  In order to ensure that this is properly implemented, I would like to hear all of our resident’s comments, concerns, and suggestions during the pilot period so that we can ensure this program can continue in the future or not.”

Councilman Ed Smith said, “I encourage pilot programs. It gives the residents and elected officials the opportunity to work together on programs within the Town to meet everyone’s needs and pleasures.”

The different facets of the educational program were worked out by a committee that included representatives from various Town departments and LI-DOG; Karen Thomas, who organized the petition drive asking for dogs to be allowed in the park; and Len Urban, from the Town’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. The Citizens Advisory Committee wanted to ensure that a dog-friendly Heckscher remained friendly for everyone, including persons with mobility issues.

“I thank LI-DOG and all of the members of the committee for creating this educational program and I appreciate the dedication of the volunteer ambassadors,” Councilwoman Cergol said.

For more information about the pilot program, call Councilwoman Cergol’s office at 631-351-3173 or email LI-DOG at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

And if you plan to walk your dog to Heckscher Park, please volunteer to become an LI-DOG Park Ambassador! Help us make the pilot program a success by emailing us at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

Thank you for your support!

 


10/11/2019 – Resolution to Allow On-Leash Dog Walking at Heckscher Park!


Resolution Introduced to Allow On-Leash Dog Walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park!

 

Pilot Program Proposal is Result of Successful Petition to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park

 

People would be allowed to walk their dogs on-leash in Heckscher Park under a pilot program proposed by Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol. The pilot program is included in a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Cergol and is scheduled to be considered at the Wed., Oct. 16th Town Board meeting. Thank you, Councilwoman Cergol!

All interested Huntington dog owners are invited to attend! No need to speak, just show up in numbers. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, located at 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution is the result of an online petition that has gotten more than 2,000 signatures since it was posted in late August. Started by Huntington dog owner and PR pro Karen Thomas, the petition asks the Town Board to make Heckscher Park a dog-friendly park by allowing leashed dogs. While 2,000 signatures is great, we are still looking for more signatures, especially from Huntington residents. The Town Board needs to see overwhelming public support for making Heckscher Park dog friendly. Sign the petition NOW! 

The petition notes that a dog-friendly park policy works well in nearby Northport Village Park keeping the park clean of goose droppings, creating a socially-friendly environment, and supporting local businesses. “Northport Harbor Park has allowed leashed dogs for years and is very busy with happy dog owners walking their dogs and enjoying events at the park,” noted Thomas. “But outdated laws have prohibited Huntington’s dog owners from walking their leashed dogs (in Heckscher Park), making the paths virtually empty when there are no events…and covered every day with goose droppings.”

The Town of Huntington opened virtually all its parks to leashed dogs in August 2017. The policy has proven both popular and successful. However, in opening virtually all town parks to leashed dogs, the Town carved out an exception for Heckscher Park, saying there was concern the park was too busy to accommodate dog owners and their pups.

In order to address that concern, the resolution maintains restrictions on dogs in the playground, in picnic areas, on the ball fields when they are in use, and in other active recreation areas. This is consistent with park policy throughout the town. The resolution also states that on-leash dog walking will be allowed on the walkway surrounding Heckscher Park Pond under the strict rule that dog owners yield to other pedestrians on the path. This also is consistent with town rules that require dog owners to keep dogs on leash and under control and that dogs yield to other park users on trails.

Restricting dogs from active recreation areas, having dogs on leash and under control at all times, and yielding to other park users on the paths should address any remaining concerns about allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of LI-DOG. “The leashed dogs policy works well in Northport, not to mention thousands of other community parks around the country,” she added. “There’s no reason to think Heckscher Park should be different.”

In an important first, Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution would also allow leashed dogs in the area around the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage during events, provided dogs remain quiet and are in no way disruptive.

The resolution would also set up a public education campaign to help inform everyone about the pilot program, its rules and responsibilities. LI-DOG and other dog owners have volunteered to help create, promote and participate in such a public education campaign.

If the resolution is approved, the pilot program would start January 1, 2020 and run for one year. The Director of the Dept. of Parks & Recreation with input from the Dept. of Planning & Environment are to report back to the Town Board by Nov. 30, 2020, with any recommendations on the pilot program. At that time adjustments can be made.

In 2017, Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone was quoted saying if the town’s dog-friendly park policy proved successful, the town would consider expanding it to other parks. Since that time, the policy has proven both popular and successful, with no reported incidents or issues.

“Northport Park…has demonstrated consistently that dog owners can be responsible and dogs can coexist in a park environment provided they are leashed at all times and waste is picked up…It’s worth at least a trial period,” wrote Loretta Milanese of Centerport in signing the petition. To read more great comments from people who have signed the petition, go to Quotes from Petition Signers 8-19.

Given the intense interest Huntington residents have demonstrated in being able to walk their leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, the steps that have been taken to address concerns, and the ability to adjust the pilot program as needed, LI-DOG is urging the Town Board to support the resolution to create a pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park.

“It’s time to let Huntington dog owners enjoy this wonderful public recreational resource just like every other Huntington resident,” said Munger Kahn.

What You Can Do:
Please let Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and the other members of the Huntington Town Board know that you support allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park and why you’re reaching out to them. The more calls and emails elected officials get, the more likely the resolution will pass! Please call or email the following elected officials NOW:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor
Town Hall (Room 200)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3030
clupinacci@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman (please thank Councilwoman Cergol!)
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3173
JCergol@huntingtonny.gov

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3172
MCuthbertson@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3175
ESmyth@HuntingtonNY.gov

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3174
ECook@HuntingtonNY.gov

The more calls and emails our elected officials get, the more likely they’ll approve the pilot program. Let your voice be heard!


07/24/2019 – Gardiner Dog Park Opening

Gardiner Dog Park Opening Set for Wed., July 24th at 2:30 p.m.!

Google Map

Large New Dog Park Features Large Dog, Small Dog and Agility Training Areas

 

Photo Credit: Jeanine Chang

The Grand Opening of a large, new dog park in Suffolk County’s popular Gardiner Park, Bay Shore, is set for Wed., July 24th at 2:30 pm!

The dog park is the result of the efforts of New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and NYS Senator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), both of whom will be in attendance along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt.

The dog park features three sections: an 80′ x 300′ small dog area; a 120′ x 300′ large dog area and a 40′ x 100′ agility training area. The provision of an agility training area is a first for a Suffolk County dog park, noted Parks Commissioner Berdolt. Each of the sections will be completely fenced by 4′ high black vinyl coated chain link fence. In addition, two watering locations have been installed.

The total dog recreation site will cover 64,000 square feet or about one and a half acres. In an effort to provide shade during the summer and a more natural setting, many of the existing trees have been left in place, the Parks Commissioner added.

The funds for the new dog park came from a $200,000 grant obtained by Sen. Boyle. “This is something I’ve thought about for a long time,” said the Senator whose family owns a toy Fox Terrier named Olivia. “It’s a beautiful park to begin with and I’ve gone to Gardiner often with my dog to walk her on-leash, but I always thought it would be a nice place for a dog run.” The west side of Islip has long needed an off-leash area, he added.

Senator Boyle worked with former Suffolk Legislator and now NYS Senator Monica Martinez on the project. Senator Martinez sponsored the resolution in the Suffolk County Legislature to accept the grant and authorize the dog park.

As is the case for all Suffolk County parks, on-leash dog walking will continue to be allowed throughout Gardiner Park. Some dog owners had been told that on-leash dog walking was at risk as a result of the new dog park. However, in a statement to LI-DOG, Commissioner Berdolt noted: “This is our most utilized park for patrons and their pets. We will continue to keep this park an on-leash friendly park.”

“I can’t speak highly enough of the job Suffolk County has done building the dog park,” added Sen. Boyle. “This will be a very special place and I can’t tell you how happy I am it’s finally coming to fruition.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please let Sen. Boyle and Sen. Martinez know how much you appreciate their work to get a beautiful new dog park created in Gardiner Park. Email Sen. Boyle at: pboyle@nysenate.gov or call 631-665-2311; Email Sen. Martinez at Martinez@nysenate.gov or call 631-360-3356.

Please also let Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt know what a great job the Parks Dept. has done building yet another, big, beautiful dog park in Suffolk County! Email Commissioner Berdolt at scparks@suffolkcountyny.gov or call 631-854-4985.

Help make sure Gardiner Park works for all park patrons by keeping your dogs leashed unless you are in the dog park itself. Also, as always, please remember to clean up after your dog.

For more information: Get the Suffolk Parks Dept. Gardiner Dog Park Opening flyer.

Thank you for your support!