5 Suffolk Dog Parks Become Law

In a historic move that will impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Long Island dog owners and their dogs for years to come, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy on Tues., May 29, 2007, signed into law a bill that directs the Parks Commissioner to designate at least five new dog parks on Suffolk County parkland in the next 120 days.

The initiative will more than double the number of dog parks in Suffolk County from the three currently authorized at West Hills, Coindre Hall and Blydenburgh (Coindre Hall and Blydenburgh are still in development) to a minimum of eight dog parks throughout the County!

The bill–Long Island’s first major dog park initiative-is the work of Legislators Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) and Jon Cooper (D-Huntington). Both legislators have expressed strong support for bringing the benefits of dog parks, thousands of which can be found throughout the U.S., to Long Island. Those benefits include building strong communities of people dedicated to the parks and the communities in which these dog parks are located.

In consultation with LI-DOG, the Suffolk Parks Dept. has moved swiftly to begin identifying potential dog park locations. Among the sites being examined are areas within Gardiner’s Park in Islip and Southaven County Park in Brookhaven. Given the law’s direction that “to the extent possible the Dept. should achieve geographic balance in identifying locations,” the Parks Dept. and LI-DOG are also looking for dog parks on County parkland on eastern Long Island and elsewhere.

The County Executive’s bill signing came just two weeks after the Suffolk County Legislature passed the bill on a unanimous 17-0 vote and three weeks after the bill sailed through the Parks Committee, picking up its entire membership-Lynn Nowick, Vivian Viloria-Fisher, Kate Browning, Lou D’Amaro, and Ed Romaine–as co-sponsors. County Executive Levy threw his support behind the Stern and Cooper bill at a press conference on April 11th (to read the story, go to Suffolk County to Create Five New Dog Parks!)

More than a year ago, LI-DOG made it its mission to make dog parks “part of the fabric of life on Long Island” –as common as going to the beach. This new law is a major step in bringing that dream to reality!

This outcome is the result of our grassroots organizing and our fellow dog owners’ response to our numerous calls to take action in support of dog parks. Our emails, letters, phone calls, attendance at hearings, and meetings with elected officials finally bore fruit. Thank you to all our fellow dog owners!

Thank you, also, to County Executive Levy whose sky-high public approval ratings and announcement of support for this major dog park initiative at the April 11th press conference was critical to turning the tide in our favor.

But, none of this would have been possible without the visionary leadership of Legislators Stern and Cooper. Leg. Stern is the lead sponsor of this bill and from the moment we met with him several months ago about the need to improve access to Suffolk County parkland by dog owners, Leg. Stern “got it.” After visiting dog parks in San Francisco with his family and friends, Leg. Stern saw how dog parks bring people and communities together and he told us he wanted to bring the community-building benefits of dog parks to Suffolk County. This bill will make that happen!

This never would have been possible without Leg. Jon Cooper’s support as well. Leg. Cooper is the majority leader in the legislature and his co-sponsorship of this bill was key. Leg. Cooper has been fighting for dog owners since 2002, when he first championed the creation of a dog park at Coindre Hall. Just two years ago, he told a large group of local residents that Coindre Hall could not be the only off-leash area in all of Suffolk County and that the county needed to offer dog owners multiple dog parks in which to allow their dogs to play off-leash. With the passage of this bill, Suffolk County has taken a major step toward achieving Leg. Cooper’s dream.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Thank Legislators Stern and Cooper and County Executive Levy for leading this initiative to better the lives of LI dog owners and their dogs!

Email Leg. Stern at steven.stern@suffolkcountyny.gov or call him at 631-854-5100.

Email Leg. Cooper at jon.cooper@suffolkcountyny.gov or call him at 631-854-4500.

Email County Executive Levy at county.executive@suffolkcountyny.gov or call 631-853-4000.

In addition, email your own legislator and thank him or her for helping make LI a better place for you and your dogs. To find your county legislator, go to http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/legis/.

Let all these elected officials know that their actions will benefit Suffolk County residents for years to come!

    As always, keep in touch by e-mailing us at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

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