Leashed Dog Pilot Program


10/26/2020 – Public Hearing Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park Nov. 4th   Recently updated !

 

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 ASAP 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 ASAP (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. People are also invited to speak at the Public Hearing by Zoom. For directions on how to sign up to speak, 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 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 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 the Town Clerk Andrew Raia at araia@huntingtonny.gov as well to make sure you 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!

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Extension Up for Vote July 21st!

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 virtual Huntington Town Board meeting. This time, the Town Board will vote on extending the pilot program another five months through the end of the year! Please support on-leash dog walking in Heckscher Park by emailing or calling the members of the Huntington Town Board today. For contact information and details, go to Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Up for a Vote! 

 


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!