Town Board Approves On-Leash Dog Walking in Designated Huntington Parks

Resolution Will Finally Allow Access to Town Parks by Dog Owners!

The Huntington Town Board voted 5-0 on Tues., June 4th to approve a change in the Town Code that will allow people to walk their dogs on-leash on designated trails in Huntington Town Parks. The unanimous decision overturns a longstanding ban on dogs in Town parks. Such policies are common in Town parks across Long Island and LI-DOG is hopeful the success of the Huntington initiative will serve as a powerful example to other Long Island Towns.

In statements before the Town Board, LI-DOG organizers noted that designating trails for on-leash dog walking will:

  • Improve public safety. Park administrators have long noted that the constant presence of dog owners and their dogs is a deterrent to undesirable and even criminal activities.
  • Bring new people into the parks who previously have been denied access to this public land. These loyal park goers will be strong supporters of the parks.
  • Build a sense of community in these parks. Dogs are a socializing influence in public spaces because of peoples’ mutual interest and affection for dogs.
  • Incent more people to get out and walk with their dogs for exercise—an activity public officials should encourage given the nation’s problem with overweight.

The dog walking initiative is an outgrowth of a successful petition by 200 Greenlawn residents asking the town to designate Frazer Park, which had been plagued by criminal activity, as a dog walking area. In May 2012, Councilman Mark Cuthbertson created a pilot program to allow people to walk their leashed dogs in the park. Since then there have been no further incidents. Because of the program’s success in deterring crime and its popularity with local residents, Councilmen Cuthbertson sponsored the resolution to extend the pilot program at Frazer Park and to change the Town Code to allow dog walking on designated trails in Huntington parks.

Councilman Cuthbertson said his goal now is to see at least four parks (in addition to Frazer Park) designated for on-leash dog walking. The Town of Huntington currently has 240 acres of parkland ranging from 18-acre Heckscher Park in Huntington Village to 160-acre Dix Hills Park in Dix Hills. “I firmly believe controlled dog walking can provide several benefits including greater observation of illegal activities,” he said.

Responsibility for recommending trails suitable for dog waking now moves to the Huntington Greenway Trails Citizens Advisory Committee. In addition to recommending new trails and trail uses to the Town Board, the committee publishes a Trails Guide to Huntington area parks. Significantly, individuals (such as dog owners) and organizations (like LI-DOG) can nominate trails for consideration by the Committee. To get a copy of the Trails Guide, download this PDF file. The Guide includes NY State, Suffolk County and Town parks. Recommendations should focus on Town parks.

Key criteria for designating trails will include environmental considerations, existing uses and compatibility with those uses, proximity to neighbors, and sufficiency of trail access and parking. LI-DOG has also recommended that any designated trails be geographically dispersed within the town, of varying lengths and difficulties, safe and accessible, and that one trail provide access to a body of water. The Town Board will have ultimate authority for approving the designated trails.

We are excited that dog owners in the Town of Huntington will finally be able to enjoy this most basic recreational activity—walking your dog on a leash in a park. But, It’s important that dog owners:

Pick up after their dogs on the trail. All responsible dog owners know the importance of cleaning up after their dogs. We have assured the Town that if there are any problems, we will organize cleanups and redouble our communications efforts to underscore the importance of picking up.

Keep dogs on-leash on the trail. This is for the safety of one’s own dog—there are hazards on the trail such as people on bikes, horseback riders, and wildlife; out of consideration for other dog owners—some dogs are not friendly or fearful of other dogs and must be kept away from other dogs; and out of consideration for non-dog owners who may not appreciate coming into contact with dogs.

By being considerate of other people and following these simple rules, we will help make the parks cleaner, safer and better for everyone!

Please thank Councilman Mark Cuthbertson for sponsoring this historic change in the Town’s park policy, which will benefit so many people, and thank the other members of the Huntington Town Board for unanimously supporting it!

The mailing address for all the Town Board members is 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Thanks for your support!

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