For years, there’s been discussion in Rye on creating a dog park to deal with the needs of dog owners and the general public.
By Bill Lawyer
For years, there’s been discussion in Rye on creating a dog park to deal with the needs of dog owners and the general public. So far, nothing has come of all this talk, but having carried out informal surveys in my travels in the U.S. and abroad and spoken at length to residents in neighboring communities who’ve helped establish ones in their towns, I believe one could be created in Rye, if the people and the powers-that-be can agree on a place and an implementation plan.
First off, you need a lot of people with big dogs, because most of the demand for dog parks comes from people whose dogs need lots of room to play and run. And these people don’t live on large estates or ranches.
Then, you need some people with lots of resources to promote their cause – because there are many things that conspire to prevent the establishment of dog parks. These include neighbors who complain about noise, park users who don’t want to give up any park space for dedicated dog use, and the cost of maintaining (and possibly purchasing) such land.
What exactly is a dog park? It’s a place where people can let their dogs off the leash to play with their masters and other dogs. Many parks are divided into two sections – one for smaller dogs and the other for larger varieties. While dogs may run free in dog parks, they aren’t completely out of control. In fact, many dog parks have almost as many rules about pet behavior as parks that don’t allow them off leash. Besides the obvious issue of protecting dogs against vehicular traffic, most dog parks need to be carefully enclosed to prevent “unfortunate” interactions with non-dog people.
Despite Rye’s inability to move forward in setting up a dog park, Harrison and Port Chester have doggedly tackled the project.
Back in 2009, a Harrison Boy Scout proposed developing a dog park as an Eagle Scout project. Many residents joined in the cause. Fortunately, the Town/Village of Harrison had a large tract of parkland that was ideal for such a project. Veterans Park is located at the dead end of a huge wooded area, bordered on one side by I-95 and by more active recreation areas of the park on the other. There really aren’t any neighbors who might complain about noise.
Equally important was the fact that several people made significant financial contributions to getting the park going. The park was designed to have two sections – one for dogs under 25 pounds, and the other for dogs over that weight – with the latter having about twice as much space as the former.
One family donated $10,000 toward the project, and many other people contributed as well. In order to provide ongoing maintenance, resident users pay $20 per year. Non-residents pay $50. The program is operated through the Harrison Clerk’s office.
One of the park’s most enthusiastic users, Marina Coteco, is a partner in a dog-walking business, “RyeDogs.com.” She reports that the busiest time at the park is from 8 to 10 a.m. On a recent day, she was the only person in the park at noon – along with her five dogs, that is.
A high-tech electronic card system controls who/what can enter the park, as well as the popular doggy water fountains. Each section of the park has garbage cans and bag dispensers. Dog walkers carefully pick up, so that the park crews can mow the lawns as needed. Coteco notes that the planting of a weeping willow tree has helped control the run-off from heavy rains. Gravel was put down at the top of the hill for the same reason.
Earlier this spring, a group of Port Chester dog people began a campaign to install a dog park at Abendroth Park. They have their work cut out for them. Getting to the park requires perseverance, as the neighborhood has several one-way streets. The park’s parking lot is closed, gated, and locked. Several “No dogs allowed at any time” signs are posted.
On the positive side, the park’s sizeable space is located in an off-the-beaten track area of Port Chester, northeast of the old United Hospital site; part of it borders I-287 and part an area of official and unofficial affordable housing. The park has acres of open space, along with a playground and pavilion.
Dina Goren, who heads the dog park’s campaign, is undaunted. So far, they’ve received approval from the Park Commission and the Village Trustees. Now they just have to raise $50,000, which is what Goren feels will be needed to install the park and provide for its care.
As for Rye, Coteco says many people have suggested to the City Council that the small landfill field at Disbrow Park could be used for a dog park. But, so far, there is no support for such a project.