When it came to changing rules to allow dogs into a town park, there was a bit of bark – but in the end, not a lot of bite from the town, after people raised concerns about the issue.
Town of North Hempstead council members decided at a Tuesday board meeting to retract a proposal that would have allowed leashed dogs to enter Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson on Wednesdays, provided owners picked up after them.
“It’s not happening,” Councilman Peter Zuckerman, whose district includes Albertson, East Hills, Searingtown, parts of Roslyn and other areas, said at the meeting.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the members had received “lots of feedback” from concerned residents prior to the meeting, before ultimately “deciding not to go forward” with the proposal.”
Roellyn Armstrong, the chairwoman of the Fanny Dwight Clark Memorial Garden Inc., a nonprofit organization founded to support the Clark Botanic Garden, said she was very pleased with the decision, given the range of concerns.
Armstrong said allowing dogs presented risks to all parties involved: plants, dogs and people. Dogs could potentially chew plants that are toxic to them, defecate and poison the plants, and run the risk of lunging at school groups touring the area, thus presenting liability issues, she said.
“Clark Garden is a botanical garden with many rare and exceptional plants, trees and shrubs,” Armstrong said. “It is not like any park in our town, some of which already have more appropriate settings for dogs and their owners.”
Samuel and Shani Frank, a couple from nearby Searingtown who have dogs of their own, said the Clark Botanic Garden is one of the last places where they could find “serenity” and that other owners were not guaranteed to follow the rules.
“Everybody thinks they’re exempt and no matter how many rules you have, you can’t keep watching them all the time,” Shani Frank said. “So it’s really, really important not to open Clark Gardens to dogs.”
“Dog owners have rights, but having dogs in parks entails certain responsibilities,” Samuel Frank said.
Bosworth said she did not want to “malign” all dogs and that in other parks, the town did not have many issues when it came to canines being on leashes.
In 2016 the town decided to allow dogs, provided they are on leashes and cleaned up after, into three parks: Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park, North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington and the Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset.
Dogs can also be walked along the North Hempstead Beach Park trail.
Michael J. Tully Park is also slated to be the site of the town’s planned $250,000 dog park, which will likely open sometime in the fall. While there, dogs would be able to play leash-free.
In unrelated business, the town also amended its fee schedule to allow active military members to get the same discounts across its parks as established veterans and let them park for free at the town’s annual firework event on May 26.
The move also reduces credit card fees for parking for all residents at North Hempstead Beach Park and Manorhaven Beach Park from $12 per day to $10 per day.
In other business, council members also signed off on the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District reallocating bond money to speed up facility upgrades.