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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!