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!

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

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!

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