June 22, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The New York State Department of Parks will discuss updates to the dog policy at Gantry Plaza State Park at a community meeting next week.
The state-run park, which spans 12 acres from about Center Boulevard and 50th Avenue to Anable Basin, is largely off-limits to dogs. Some areas, however— including the plaza area in front of the gantries, and one of the piers— do allow leashed dogs.
NYS Parks says it is tapping into the community now to figure out a coherent dog policy at the park.
“The park was constructed in phases with community input regarding the dog rules for each phase,” said Leslie Wright, NYC Regional Director. “Now that the park has been fully constructed—including two dedicated dog runs within the park—NYS Parks is checking in with the community to find the best balance for permitting dogs in this 12 acre riverfront park, and synchronizing the pet policy within the park.”
The Hunters Point area, while swarming with dogs, has seen conflicts over the years between dog owners and other park-goers.
Rob Basch, President of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said there will be people that are in favor of an updated policy allowing dogs in more areas within the park, as well as those who may reject the idea outright.
“The idea is to find a happy medium that makes it better for everyone,” Basch said.
He said this issue has been discussed with NYS Parks for several years. Community members have expressed concerns over dog owners not following the rules, owners not cleaning up after dogs or leaving residue behind, and little to no enforcement from the state. Still, there are plenty of dog owners who would like more space for their dogs, Basch said.
Some Gantry State Plaza Park-goers would not like to see dogs at the state park—period.
“I hate it,” said Diana B., a Center Boulevard resident for six years, while at the park with her children. “I think it’s already bad enough. I see dog poo smeared all the time, so the policy should stay.”
Others, however, think it’s about time that the park allowed dogs in more places. Hunters Point Park, for example, allows leashed dogs in most areas. Dogs are not permitted in some spaces, including the children’s playground, the oval and LIC Landing.
“It’s unfair,” said Alexandria Zapata, a 20-year-old Astoria resident who was about to enter the park with her dog. “This is for everyone— it’s such a central point where everybody goes.”
Michael M., a dog owner and a Long Island City resident for the last 10 years, said its ridiculous that dogs are restricted to certain areas within Gantry Plaza State Park. He also dismissed the notion of dogs leaving residue on grass and other portions of the park as a potential problem for some.
“That’s what nature is for,” he said, noting that soil has natural bacteria to “take care of that”. “Are they going to ban pigeons because of their pigeon poop, too?”
NYS Parks said there are no new rules at the park for public release yet, as the new pet policy will not be finalized until the agency receives community input.
The community meeting, organized by NYS Parks and the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, will take place on June 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Plaxall Gallery, located at 5-25 46th Ave.