Joan Cergol


.11/27/2020 – Huntington Town Board Makes Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly

Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly!

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Nov. 19th to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park. The vote came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol who led the effort to allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s signature community park. It followed an almost year-long, successful pilot program in which on-leash dog walking gained broad support in the community. For more information on how it happened, go to Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog Friendly! 

 


11/27/2020 – Huntington Town Board Makes Heckscher Park Dog-Friendly For Good

 

Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly!

 

Unanimous Decision Comes After Successful Year-Long Pilot Program

Photo Credit: Johanna King

The Huntington Town Board voted 5-0 on Nov. 19th to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park! The vote at a virtual Town Board meeting came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and seconded by both Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilman Eugene Cook.  Councilwoman Cergol has led the year-long effort to add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy. Council members Mark Cuthbertson and Ed Smyth also voted in favor.

In seconding Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution, Supervisor Lupinacci noted that the Town Board had gotten “a lot of emails and support” for the resolution and that “it was nice to see [such support].”  Thanks to everyone who responded to LI-DOG’s emails and contacted the Town Board urging them to make Heckscher Park dog-friendly for good!

Thank you also to fellow Huntington dog owner Karen Thomas who created the online petition in Aug. 2019 that got this all started. Also, a big thank you to our volunteer Park Ambassadors—dog owners who helped spread the word about the pilot program and the rules in the park–including Michelle Troiano, Wendy Tullo, Johanna King, Sharyn Julino, Laurence Foray, Elizabeth Madden, Erich Preis, Loary Milanese and Michelle Factor Noonan.

“Walking our dogs on-leash in Heckscher Park is something Huntington dog owners have wanted for years. We are thrilled this has finally happened thanks largely to the efforts of Councilwoman Cergol and our fellow Park Ambassadors,” said LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn.

The vote to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Heckscher Park came after a successful, almost year-long pilot program in Huntington’s signature community park.  The pilot program was launched by a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Cergol in Oct. 2019 and renewed three times by the Town Board. It  created a public education effort to bring dog owners in the park up to speed on the new rules for on-leash dog walking, while allowing for an Oversight Committee chaired by Councilwoman Cergol to make adjustments to the program in response to input from the community.

The Oversight Committee included representatives from LI-DOG and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, volunteer Park Ambassadors, and staff from Huntington’s Dept. of Public Safety and the Division of Animal Control, among others.

LI-DOG noted that Councilwoman Cergol’s responsiveness to concerns raised by the community by adjusting the rules, working with the Dept. of Public Safety, Animal Control and General Services to get the resources needed to respond to these issues, and then Park Ambassadors stepping up their public education efforts were key to the success of the pilot program.

As a result, not only did the pilot program operate successfully through all four seasons of the year, but the policy of allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park gained broad support in the community. “Even people who were initially uncomfortable about allowing on-leash dogs in Heckscher Park ended up supporting making the policy permanent,”  noted LI-DOG in a Nov. 2nd Email to the Town Board: Please Support Adding Heckscher to Dog Friendly Parks Policy.

In a significant development on Nov. 5th, the chair of the Huntington Greenway Trails Committee on which LI-DOG serves and which in 2017, recommended opening virtually all Town parks to on-leash dogs, endorsed adding Heckscher Park to the town’s broad dog-friendly parks policy.  In 2017, the committee had exempted Heckscher Park from its recommendation because of concerns about overcrowding. Now, “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.”

The effects of the pilot program on Heckscher Park were summarized in the final Park Ambassadors Report submitted by lead Park Ambassador Karen Thomas 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 one Park Ambassador put it, “In addition to meeting neighbors and making new friends, I’ve become healthier and created an amazing routine with my dog. For the first time since moving to Huntington, I feel a sense of belonging here.”

Councilwoman Cergol summarized her take on the success of the pilot program in a Nov. 21st Facebook post. Since creating the pilot program a year ago, she wrote, “we taught both the public and our pooches new tricks about safety and co-existing in harmony during a tumultuous year when peace and harmony were often hard to find. We did that by abiding by the mindset that if we respected everyone’s right to enjoyment of this downtown signature park…we would create a walking path for all to come together. For me, this may be one of the most important lessons of this humble pilot program and of this very challenging year,” she wrote.  “For that, I could not be prouder.”

Even though the pilot program has ended, LI-DOG’s President assured the Town Board before the vote that Park Ambassadors would continue to keep an eye on dog owner activities in the park. Once the threat of the coronovirus is contained, public education days will be scheduled when Park Ambassadors once again hand out flyers and talk to dog owners about the rules in the park. If any issues arise, dog owners will reach out to Councilwoman Cergol for her help in resolving them, she said.

Dog owners need to be aware that restrictions on dogs, both leashed and unleashed, remain in place for specific areas of Heckscher Park and other 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 was added to 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.

What You Can Do: If you have not already done so, let the members of the Huntington Town Board know how great it is to finally be allowed to walk your dog(s) on-leash in Heckscher Park. Don’t forget to thank them for unanimously approving making Heckscher Park dog-friendly for good!

Members of the Huntington Town Board:

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!


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

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

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 resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol comes on the heels of an almost year-long pilot program that was successful and gained broad support in the community. To get all the details on this momentous vote, go to Vote to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park!


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

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

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. The resolution introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol builds on a successful almost-year-long pilot program in the park. Please email or call Huntington Town Board members TODAY and urge them to support the resolution to allow on-leash dogs in Heckscher Park for good! For details and links to contact Town Board members, go to Public Hearing Nov. 4th on Proposal to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park For Good!

 


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!


07/08/2020 – 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

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

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously March 31st to extend the pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park. The vote came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and seconded by Councilman Gene Cook. The program has been running since Jan. 1st and must be renewed every three months. In a letter urging the Town Board to support the extension, LI-DOG and Huntington dog owner and park ambassador Karen Thomas noted the pilot program has been running successfully and is working as envisioned by the Town Board when it approved leashed dogs on a test basis last fall. For details, go to Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extended!

 


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

 

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

Please 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! Get contact information and details at Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Up for Renewal!