Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Off-Leash Encroachment

The common theme in today’s post is attempts or apparent attempts to expand the off-leash policy.

1. This week, in the online version of the New York Times, author Frances R. Sheridan is answering City Room readers’ questions about New York’s dogs and dog runs. Here’s a question from “Tony”, presumably the president of FIDO which, having incrementally grabbed all of Park’s open spaces before 9 A.M. wants still more:

Prospect Park is a designated off-leash park. The hours in the evening for off-leash is [sic] 9 PM to 1AM. It is too dark, and scary at that time for people and their dogs. Can we get a dog run for these people, without losing off-leash? FIDO In Prospect Park has been very good for the park. We police our selves, and leave the park cleaner after we leave it. We donate garbage pails for the park, fill up potholes, organize clean ups. People from all over come here to use the park. Recently a State Senator came to one of our events, and was moved by the diversity of the dogwalkers, people of color, different ethnic groups and classes all getting along with their dogs. The Senator is having part of his Diversity Day among the dog walkers of Prospect Park. WE do so much, is a dog run too much to ask?

The answers to the first set of questions are here. One of them, in response to someone else’s question, notes that DOPR general policy is not to have dog runs in parks with off-leash hours, but “this has not been an across-the-board rule, and policies do change.” And we will guess that the senator’s comment about “Diversity Day among the dog walkers,” if indeed he said that, was intended to be facetious.

2. And here is a second set of answers, in which Ms. Sheridan advises a dog owner who wants extended dog hours at the Nethermead. She also prints, but pretty much avoids answering, a question by someone troubled by illegally off-leash dogs in Riverside Park.

3. According to minutes of a May 21, 2008 meeting, Community Board 6 in Red Hook 9-0 to bring off-leash provisionally to Coffey Park and have a committee decide in September whether to make it permanent. The proposal to bring off-leash was made by the DOPR, whose representative, Eric Greene, “ stated that Park had never failed inspection and needs off-leash hours. In practice, dog owners have been coming in the morning – being used for past 2 years as off-leash. We would just be codifying the current practice.” So far as we know, the DOPR has heretofore not involved community boards in making off-leash decisions, and we are told that the Juniper Park Civic Association was explicitly told that decisions about their park would be made by the DOPR, not the community board. So it seems that DOPR policy is to involve community boards only when it suits their anti-leash agenda.

4. An article in the August 9, 2008 New York Daily News by newswriter Amy Sacks, “Slew of Dog Runs Make 'Staycations' for Dogs a Walk in the Park,” says that Prospect Park “offers the city's longest off-leash hours”. We emailed her last week to point out that off-leash hours are standard throughout the city and to ask just where she got this misinformation (or, we suspect, disinformation), but she never responded.

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