Monday, January 9, 2012

Unilateral Extension of Prospect Park Dog Hours?

A number of years (how many is disputed) before dogs were legally allowed to roam the parks unleashed, Prospect Park in effect did not enforce the leash law between 9 P.M. and 9 A.M. on the Peninsula Meadow, Long Meadow, and the Nethermead; except that, during Eastern Standard Time and only on the Nethermead, they were allowed loose beginning at 5 P.M. The official off-leash rules allow dogs to be unleashed in "designated areas", city-wide, beginning at 9 P.M. only. But a friend of mine, who stopped a PEP agent the other day to complain about 20 dogs on the Nethermead at 4:20 P.M., was told by the agent that during the winter dog hours officially begin at 5 P.M. He corrected the agent but when he called 311 was told the same thing. I just contacted 311 myself and the following email ensued. I shall report any response:
Dear Ms. Lloyd and Messrs. Benepe and Olivieri:

According to the 311 operator I just talked to, who was reading from a screen, from Nov. 1-March 31, off-leash hours in Prospect Park's Long Meadow, Nethermead and Peninsula run from 5 P.M. to 9 A.M. daily. This was confirmed in a text message from 311 to my cellphone. The problem is that, as Messrs Benepe and Olivieri certainly know, and as I presume Ms. Lloyd knows as well, off-leash hours city-wide in the parks do not begin until 9 P.M. Indeed, since off-leash hours were permitted at all only by an amendment to the City's health code, which permits the DPR to adopt off-leash hours only between 9 P.M. and 9 A.M., neither the DPR nor any park may adopt earlier hours.

According to Prospect Park's website at, off-leash hours begin only at 9 P.M.; there are no "special" winter hours. Even (so far as I can tell) FIDO's website, says nothing about special winter hours. Nonetheless, a Parks Enforcement Patrol agent in Prospect Park told a friend of mine about these "special" hours, so in addition to 311, apparently someone told PEP, in effect, not to enforce the rules between 5 P.M. and 9 P.M.

My questions are: (1) how did 311 (and Prospect Park PEP) get the idea that there are "special" winter off-leash hours in Prospect Park; (2) if indeed there are no "special" winter hours, which one of you will tell 311 and the PEP; (3) when you do so, could you please send me what you send them; and (4) if one of you thinks that off-leash hours may begin earlier, could you please cite me some authority?

Oh, and Ms. Lloyd, belated congratulations on your selection as Prospect Park administrator. I am a long-time Brooklyn resident, parks-goer, and supporter of Brooklyn's cultural institutions. I used to be a supporter of Prospect Park until I found that I could not birdwatch there, particularly not in the early hours when the birds are most active and feeding (and when I do not yet have to be at work), without being harassed, and worse, by aggressive dogs and their even more aggressive owners. I hope that under your administration Prospect Park will become a place that is open and welcoming to all people, not merely the handful of "middle class" and wealthy people who believe the park is their own private dog run.


No comments: