June 28, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Dozens of Hunters Point residents weighed in on what has proven to be a controversial topic in Long Island City—dogs at the waterfront parks—during a public meeting with New York State Parks held yesterday.
The meeting, organized in part by the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, was a chance for NYS Parks to hear community input on dog policy and rules at Gantry Plaza State Park.
The 12-acre park, spanning from Center Boulevard and 50th Avenue to Anable Basin, is currently off limits to dogs in virtually all places, except for some areas including the plaza in front of the gantries, and one of the piers.
Leslie Wright, NYC Regional Director for NYS Parks, said the meeting was convened due to the number of emails and comments her office has received over time on all things dogs at the park. The meeting was also held as a way to see if a more coherent dog policy could be implemented at the park.
“It just seemed like a natural time to have the conversation,” Wright said.
Most of the attendees were supporters of allowing dogs into the park, but several people opposed any changes to the current policy, citing existing enforcement issues and fears of creating an unsanitary space.
“This is the one part of this neighborhood that is dog-free,” said Rebecca, an LIC resident, later adding: “It is nice to have at least one place in this neighborhood where I don’t have to deal with dogs if I don’t want to.”
A number of residents said the no-dog rules at the park are not being enforced, with several dog owners bringing their pets, keeping them off-leash, and not even bothering to pick up after them.
“Whatever we can do to have consistent enforcement would be great, whatever the decision is,” one attendee said.
Still, many locals voiced their frustrations over not being able to simply walk their dog to the park, and said it’s a small group of irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets or look out for them who give responsible dog owners a bad name.
Practically all attendees agreed that a compromise needed to be reached at the park, given the growing number of people and families moving in, along with the sheer number of dogs in the neighborhood. A move to permit dogs on the park’s pathways, but not the grass areas where dog waste could pose an issue, for example, was a policy many in the meeting could get behind.
Dan Chin, a father to two young children, was generally in support of a no-dogs-on-grass-policy, but wondered how such a policy would be enforced.
He worried that a dog owner with their dog on the grass would simply go back onto the pavement path once prompted by NYS Parks, but would go back to the grass once enforcement left.
“When you have a bright line rule where an entire section of the park is dog free, I feel like that is actually easier for enforcement,” Chin said.
Wright said a decision on the park policy, which could mean either keeping it as is or updating it, would likely be delivered by the end of July.
She also invited the public and those who were not able to make the meeting to continue communicating with NYS Parks on the topic by emailing:
Leslie Wright, NYC Regional Director
Scott Matson, Deputy General Manager, NYC Region