Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tupper Responds on Nethermead; Plum Beach; Other Scofflaws: Biting the Meter Reader

On May 20 we posted this letter to Tupper Thomas:
Ms. Thomas,

I am writing to you, once again, to complain about the offleash problem on the Nethermead Meadow. This evening I was walking home across the meadow at 6pm. There were at least 10 unleashed dogs on the field and more arriving through the Ravine as I crossed Center Drive. As you know, this is not the first time that I've complained to you about this issue. I find it incomprehensible that the person who is both the head of the Prospect Park Alliance and the Park Administrator for Prospect Park would be unable to solve this problem. Dog owners behave as if there will be no repercussions for ignoring the 9pm to 9am rule, and to be honest, I can see why. I stopped at the Litchfield Villa to file a complaint but was told by the gentleman who answered the door that park enforcement leaves at 5pm. It is bad enough that I can no longer go into the park during the early morning hours because unleashed dogs are in every section of the park, but it seems that the Nethermead Meadow is now no longer available to people who don't want to be harassed by unleashed dogs, as well.

This issue was recently been reported by WABC EyeWitness news. I would have expected that the parks department would immediately act to fix the issue. Apparently not. Please let me know what is going to be done to rectify this out of control problem.

It took Ms. Thomas until July 2, but she responded:
I have gone to the Nethermead a number of times and have seen a few dogs off leash after 5 but not many. PEP has been asked to stop by there and the Peninsula but in the summer they have a lot to cover. I know they did give out some summonses in May and June.

"Some summons" indeed. We don't--yet--know how many, but recall that they gave all of 8 in March and 13 in April. In any event, here's our correspondent's response:
Ms. Thomas,

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, a lack of Park Enforcement Patrols and the resulting non-enforcement of park rules in Prospect Park is disgraceful. There are dogs offleash in the park pretty much any time and anywhere. If the department of parks is responsible for creating an incentive for dog owners to obey the existing rules, it has failed miserably. Despite two signs at the "Dog Beach" that inform dog owners that they must leash their pets after 9am and before 9pm, nearly all dogs at the Upper Pool are unleashed all the time. On July 17th between 5:00pm and 5:40pm I observed unleashed dogs at the Dog Beach, as well as, on the Nethermead Meadow and on the baseball fields (the latter nearly directly in front of signs prohibiting dogs on the ball fields). Note also that an NYPD patrol car at the Nethermead Meadow completely ignored unleashed dogs on the field. I've submitted a video to a website which tracks this problem. It is clear to me, and everyone who goes into Prospect Park, that the Department of Parks & Recreation has no intentions of trying to correct this problem. How else could you explain that, even though you are aware that every day at 5pm there are multiple unleashed dogs at the "Dog Beach" and the Nethermead Meadow, there isn't a P.E.P. officer present to ticket these people each day until they get the message that their behavior will not be tolerated? In addition, every morning, prior to 9:00am, dog owners run their pets offleash through the Ravine and on all the pathways in between the Long Meadow, Nethermead Meadow and Peninsula Meadow. When a child is mauled by an unleashed dog in YOUR park, will you tell the media that you were unaware of a problem with unleashed dogs? If you do, there is plenty of documentation that will say otherwise.

Here's the video:

* * *
We've been told by official sources that shore rangers and federal park police in Gateway are now aware of the loose dog problem at Plum Beach and have agreed to issue citations. Nonetheless, from a correspondent last Wednesday:
Well I just got back from Plum (3:30 PM-4:00 PM) and there were 4 off-leash dogs (3 owners), and no enforcement despite the presence of a truck with some Park Rangers in it on the beach. So I guess they were not really serious.
What's particularly galling is that according to the National Park Service website, even leashed dogs don't belong on beaches in Gateway--which Plum Beach is part of--between March 15 and September 15. So why don't the NPS respond? From a correspondent:
Today XXXX and I put in a call to the NPS Police about an off-leash dog at Plum and they didn't respond. I have seen this particular individual several times and have asked him not to do that, and informed him of the leash laws and he's essentially cursed me out (he doesn't seem to speak great English, so I assume that's what he's doing) each time.

* * *
We've gotten some comments about the filth at Prospect Park including this article in The Brooklyn Paper. We've also gotten comments about bicyclists going the wrong way and about illegal barebecuers. We can't say good things about any of them, but it seems to us that there's an enormous difference, among many of which is that illegal barbecuers, wrong-way bicyclists, and litterers don't have a well-organized lobby trying--successfully--to prevent the law from being enforced.

* * *

From Con Edison's website:
No one thinks their pet would hurt anyone, but it happens. Even if you tell us your pet is friendly, we cannot enter a location or yard where a pet is loose. To avoid getting an estimated bill, look for the next metering reading date on your bill, and secure your pet that day. We also read water meters, so your pet may prevent us from reading your water meter as well. We also ask you to clear the path and area around the meter.
Somehow we don't think Con Ed is talking about cats or birds.


Todd Shirley said...

The reason these rules aren't enforced more strictly is that this is a NON-ISSUE. Nobody but you and a few others care about this at all. The VAST majority of park-users don't have a problem with the occasional off-leash dog, and the VAST majority of people who walk their dogs in the park follow the rules. With every rule there will be scofflaws, and the percentage of people who break this law is miniscule. You make it out to be much worse than it is. Don't act surprised when Tupper Thomas doesn't pay much attention to you – your rants make you sound deluded.

credo-ny said...

At one time we could have dealt with an "occasional" off-leash dog, but (1) we've done surveys: often the majority of dogs in the park that are not in the "designated areas" are unleashed, and it is not unusual for the majority of dogs in the park during on-leash hours to be off-leash, (2) Tupper is lying, and (3) we don't think there is any excuse for even an "occasional" unleashed dog in the parks given the generous off-leash policy and the many open dog runs.