Pilot Program

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.

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

Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!


Pilot program sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol includes educational campaign aided by LI-DOG 


The Pond at Huntington’s Heckscher Park

A pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park started January 1, 2020! The pilot program is the result of a resolution sponsored by Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol and passed unanimously by the Huntington Town Board on Oct. 16th, 2019. The resolution establishes a three-month pilot program with the expectation is that if the first three months are successful, the pilot will be extended for another three months and so on throughout the year.

In order to make sure the pilot program is a success, Councilwoman Cergol is working with the Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG) on an educational campaign to spread the word about common sense rules for the park.

The educational campaign includes:

  • An explanatory video featuring Councilwoman Cergol and her beautiful boxer, Dempsey. (See Councilwoman Cergol’s Video now.)
  • Detailed signage to be installed at all park entrances.
  • An at-a-glance card flyer detailing the rules.
  • A dedicated cadre of LI-DOG volunteers who will serve as ambassadors in the park, handing out the card and answering questions from dog owners and persons without dogs. (If you would like to serve as an LI-DOG park ambassador, email lidog_news@yahoo.com.)
  • Installation of dog waste bag dispensers at the park.

“The key to this program’s success is dog owners understanding what is allowed and respecting the rights of all people who want to enjoy Huntington’s signature park, both with and without dogs,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “That’s the main thrust of our educational campaign.”

“LI-DOG’s members understand that bringing their dogs to Heckscher is a privilege that we would like to see become permanent,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, LI-DOG’s president. “Our volunteers want to make sure that all dog owners understand their responsibility to make this program work.”


The rules, as noted in both the signage and the information card, require dog owners to:

  • Keep dogs on leash (maximum 6 feet) and under control. No retractable leashes.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of dog waste.
  • Yield to all other park goers on the paths by stepping off the path.
  • Keep dogs out of the playground, picnic areas and tennis courts and the ball field, when in use.
  • Keep dogs quiet during events at the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage.
  • Avoid wildlife for their safety and their dog’s.
  • Keep dogs out of the plantings and the pond.
  • Have dogs licensed and vaccinated.
  • Have no more than two dogs per handler.
  • Respect other park goers so the park is a good experience for everyone!

Park-goers with safety concerns are advised to call the Town’s 24-hour Public Safety number, 631-351-3234.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Heckscher Park and the rules established for this program should ensure that this remains the case,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “Please let us know about your experience with the 90-day dog-walking pilot program so that we can fully assess the success of this program at the end of March.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said, “Combining this pilot program with an educational campaign will give us the feedback from residents we need to ensure that everyone can enjoy the park.”

Councilman Eugene Cook said, “Over the years many people have reached out to the Town Board asking to remove the Heckscher Park ban on allowing dogs in the park.  As these residents would like to enjoy using Heckscher Park with their families, including their canine companions, as they have been able to do at other locations without incident for years.  As a dog owner, I understand the strong relationship between an owner and their companion. This pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park will build on those relationships, and it will also be a benefit for our community as a whole.  In order to ensure that this is properly implemented, I would like to hear all of our resident’s comments, concerns, and suggestions during the pilot period so that we can ensure this program can continue in the future or not.”

Councilman Ed Smith said, “I encourage pilot programs. It gives the residents and elected officials the opportunity to work together on programs within the Town to meet everyone’s needs and pleasures.”

The different facets of the educational program were worked out by a committee that included representatives from various Town departments and LI-DOG; Karen Thomas, who organized the petition drive asking for dogs to be allowed in the park; and Len Urban, from the Town’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. The Citizens Advisory Committee wanted to ensure that a dog-friendly Heckscher remained friendly for everyone, including persons with mobility issues.

“I thank LI-DOG and all of the members of the committee for creating this educational program and I appreciate the dedication of the volunteer ambassadors,” Councilwoman Cergol said.

For more information about the pilot program, call Councilwoman Cergol’s office at 631-351-3173 or email LI-DOG at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

And if you plan to walk your dog to Heckscher Park, please volunteer to become an LI-DOG Park Ambassador! Help us make the pilot program a success by emailing us at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

Thank you for your support!