Joan Cergol


.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!


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!

 


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

 

Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!

A pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park started Jan. 1, 2020! Councilwoman Joan Cergol, sponsor of the resolution that created the pilot program, and LI-DOG simultaneously launched a public education effort to make sure dog owners are aware of the common sense rules designed to make the pilot program a success. For details on the pilot program, the rules for the park, and what dog owners can do to help  make the pilot a success, go to Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs.


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!