Dogs Have Their Day At Town Hall
Four parks in the Town of Huntington are officially going to the dogs, but in the best possible way.
That’s because the Huntington Town Board voted Jan. 7 not only to make on-leash dog-walking a permanent feature in Greenlawn’s Frazer Drive Park, but they expanded the program to include parks in Dix Hills, Commack and Northport.
“Each of these trails has unique characteristics and attractions, but what underlies them all is the opportunity they provide Huntington dog owners to enjoy public park land like other Huntington residents,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of the Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG).
Additional town dog-walking trails will be established at the Dix Hills Park woodland trail, the paved path at Commack’s Sunshine Acres Park and on land at Northport’s Jerome Ambro Memorial Wetlands Preserve connecting the Makamah Park Preserve and the Suffolk-owned lowlands portion of the Fuchs Preserve.
The Huntington Greenway Trails Committee recommended making the Frazer Park pilot permanent and adding the three new locations following a review conducted alongside LI-DOG leaders in July. A month earlier, the town created a framework by which parks can be nominated as sites for on-leash dog walking.
“They looked at what other criteria makes them appropriate… They look at the various facets of the park to make that determination,’ Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who sponsored the dog-walking legislation, said.
At Frazer Drive Park, town spokesman A.J. Carter said, General Services will create a landscape barrier “to make it clear where dogs can go” on the perimeter of the park. The Greenway Trails Committee will also post signs at the parks to lay out the rules of the program, chair Laura McKellar said.
The town board created the pilot program in May 2012 and extended it in February 2013 before making it permanent on Tuesday. There, neighbors credit the dog-walking program with helping to clean up a park marred by robberies, criminal mischief, fires, and even a rape in 2008.
“It’s made a big difference – the people are in there, and the kids in there are doing what they’re supposed to do,” Michele Martines, president of the Frazer Park Civic Association, said.
While the impetus for dog walking in Greenlawn was a community concern, the Greenway committee took the lead on adding the other three parks, McKellar said.
Also on Jan. 7, the town board voted to appoint a representative of LI-DOG, a nonprofit organization with the mission of expanding access to public parkland for Long Island dog owners and their dogs, to the town’s Greenway Trails Advisory Committee.
“We are looking forward to being part of the team that will work to make sure that this much-needed initiative is successful,” Munger Kahn said.
Cuthbertson said the Greenway committee will track the progress at these four parks before signing off on any new walking trails.
“If there aren’t significant hurdles, as other places are deemed appropriate, they would go on,” he said.