Saturday, July 5, 2008

Response to a Comment

The comment moderation feature permits us only to accept or reject an entire comment, not to accept only a portion or to edit it. Because the following submitted comment contains material that does not meet our guidelines, we’re answering the material that does in this post:

From “Noisejoke”:

You write, "the fact that no other group has park space reserved for it to any remotely comparable extent..." Does this mean I can barbecue in the riding ring at 15th st? Does this mean I can mountain bike on one of the numerous, beautifully maintained baseball in-fields? May I trot my daughter's horse through the 9th st playground? Perhaps, I'll play cricket on stage during the Metropolitan Opera.

Unleashed dogs and their owners effectively have exclusive use of all of Prospect Park’s open areas—more than 1/3 of its total area—before 9 A.M. (as well as after 9 P.M.) every day of the year. The Metropolitan Opera has (in effect) exclusive use of the Long Meadow for a few hours a couple of evenings a year. Baseball players have exclusive use of the baseball fields—a small fraction of the area on the Long Meadow—while they play there (dogs are not allowed on these fields, but are regularly seen there nonetheless), and horse riders have the right of way on the bridle paths (a right of way regularly violated by unleashed dogs). Barbecuers--almost exclusively minority groups--are scattered around the park on a few warm weekends a year, but their presence doesn't prevent most other uses of the areas they are in. Certainly, one can walk among barbecuers without fear of being bitten, scratched, chased, or knocked over. None of these is remotely comparable to the rights of off-leash dog owners.

And according to you there are no non-white people at Off Leash hours.

What we actually said was that they were few and far between, that in our observation those who ran their dogs in Prospect were overwhelmingly white, while other park users were predominantly, and in some cases overwhelmingly, non-white.

[Y]our unwillingness to post my comments. . . . Conversation, compromise and fair solutions are not on your agenda.

(1) Some of the comments you submitted previously, as well as a portion of this comment, did not meet our guidelines for civility and so were not published.

(2) We’re all for intelligent conversation. Unlike the websites of anti-leash organizations such as FIDO and NYCoffleash, which do not accept comments at all, we are not afraid of defending or viewpoint. But we will not accept shouting, name-calling, or their internet equivalent that pass for "conversation" on unmoderated websites.

(3) Compromise or a "fair solution" is appropriate when worthy uses for park space conflict. But not all proposed uses of the parks are appropriate, and just because someone wants to use the park for an activity doesn't mean it's proper to "compromise" and give him part of what he asks for. Recently, the Mayor banned--outright--large demonstrations on Central Park's Great Lawn because of the damage they cause. No compromise there. Let's say a group of ATV users asked to use the Nethermead for drag racing on Sunday mornings, motor boat owners ask to run their boats in the lake, or someone asks to use the Long Meadow for a demolition derby a couple of times a year. Do you believe that the Parks Department should permit any of these things as a "compromise"? We do not, we would hope that the Parks Department does not, and we do not see how letting dogs run loose in unfenced areas of the parks is any different.

And allowing leashed dogs at all times all over Prospect Park, with specific exceptions such as ballfields, playgrounds and bridle paths, is itself a compromise. If it were up to us, dogs, even leashed dogs, would never be allowed in such areas as the Peninsula woods, the Vale of Cashmere, and the Midwood, just as they're never allowed in Central Park's Strawberry Fields. Why? Even leashed dogs scare away wildlife, degrading the park experience both for the wildlife and for those of us who come to the park to enjoy it.

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