We Love Ward Acres!!

F A Q s

During vs City of New Rochelle
The Amended Ordinance
Ward Acres Appreciation Day
ELECTION 2007 Results
How Can We ALL Share Ward Acres?
Guidelines for Off-Leash Recreation
Born to Run - Video Testimonials
Sound Bites!
The People Speak
Vandalism and Park Abuse
Will Fees Obstruct Colonial Greenway?
WVOX - Places to Take Your Dog
The Ward Acres Documentary Project
Meet Lulu & Her Friends
Walk in Ward Acres - Stories, Photos & Videos
F A Q s
How to Contact the City Council. Make Your Bark Heard!
Letter to Dog Owners
Join Our Email List
YAHOO! Group: Friends of Ward Acres

"I've never been a dog person. I don't go to Ward Acres because I feel uncomfortable being around them. Isn't it unfair to allow free access to Ward Acres for dogs, when there are plenty of people who are intimidated by them?"

             Even though we love our pets and enjoy meeting all the various dogs that come to Ward Acres with their families, we completely understand that not everyone is comfortable around dogs. That is why we are proposing a fair compromise: ALTERNATING on-leash/off-leash days. One way to implement this proposal would be to declare EVEN days of the month on-leash days (or no-dogs-at-all days!) and ODD days off-leash days. That way, the dogs of New Rochelle will be able to get plenty of exercise, but people who are not comfortable being around unleashed dogs would also be able to enjoy the park several days a week, at whatever time suits them.

            That said, we encourage all people—dog lovers or not—to visit Ward Acres during off-leash hours. The park is so large that there are more than enough acres for all of us! We think you’ll find that even if there are dogs unleashed in the park, you can avoid them very easily. Dogs will stick by their owners or explore the brush where humans never walk. It is easy to keep away from them—and other people!—if what you crave is a solitary walk through the woods.

             Also, it is important to note that responsible dog owners, like those who frequent Ward Acres, are sensitive and respectful of other people’s needs and comfort levels. You can ALWAYS ask a dog owner to please hold their dog aside as you pass. We want Ward Acres to be a place that EVERYONE in New Rochelle can enjoy. We are so lucky to have such a unique public space—a veritable wilderness in the middle of our bustling metropolis!

            As a final note, we believe that allowing off-leash dogs and their families access to Ward Acres provides an immeasurable benefit to the New Rochelle community at large. Having the freedom to exercise off-leash in a large, wilderness space is an incredibly healthy experience, both mentally and physically, for all dogs. Learning how to play and interact with other dogs and people is also a vital life skill that is taught and honed in the dog community at Ward Acres. Needless to say, healthy, well-adjusted dogs make better friends and neighbors. Even if you’re not a dog-owner yourself, your neighborhood surely benefits if the Golden Retriever next door and the Great Dane down the block are exercised regularly at Ward Acres!

"Isn't Ward Acres dirty and gross with all those dogs running around pooping?"

       Dog owners who frequent Ward Acres are diligent about picking up after their dogs (typically, there is little or no dog waste lying around). In fact, dog owners go even further. Every Sunday morning, members of the Ward Acres dog community pick up beer cans (around 100! Disgusting!) that have been discarded in the park, evidently by Saturday night "party-animals." Dog owners also maintain a system of trash bags that drastically cuts down on litter and detritus on the grounds during the day. We urge you to visit Ward Acres. It is a beautiful, pristine natural wilderness, largely thanks to the efforts of the dog community. In fact, and unfortunately, Ward Acres is much cleaner than many other city parks.


"What's wrong with the off-leash hours anyway? Aren't the city's new regulations a reasonable compromise between the needs of dog owners and the rest of the community?"

       The New Rochelle City Council has limited off-leash dog hours to early mornings before 10am and to late afternoons after 4 in winter (or 5 in spring and summer months) - BUT NO MID-DAY OR AFTERNOON HOURS ON ANY WEEKENDS OR HOLIDAYS. Needless to say, these times are extremely inconvenient for any typical, busy New Rochelle family. The early mornings are spent shuffling children off to school and the late afternoons are occupied with dinnertime, homework and extracurricular activities. And it is dark shortly after 4pm much of the year! The fact that there are no afternoon hours, even on the weekends, makes it impossible for many families--like Lulu's--to enjoy Ward Acres together, as has been a longstanding, joyful family tradition.

A true compromise would be to adopt a proposal such as ours: ALTERNATING on-leash/off-leash days.

We welcome any suggestions as to fair compromises. We are interested in sharing Ward Acres with the entire New Rochelle community. We just think it unfair and unwise to effectively shut dogs and their families out of the one city park where dogs can run off-leash.

Do the user fees make any sense?

       New Rochelle residents already pay a $12 fee to register their dogs and attest to their vaccinations. The Ward Acres fee duplicates this and at $50 is way out of line compared to other park user fees. For example, $70 gets you unlimited access to numerous well-maintained tennis complexes.  The Ward Acres $50 gets you only a few hours per day off-leash in one park, and the least usable hours at that.  A $31 OmniCard covers unlimited access to six parks.  In addition, there is no "family rate" for multiple dog-owning residents or non-residents.

The non-resident fee of $250 for use of the park is way out of line and quite possibly illegal. Under the NY State Conservation Law, which governs use of Ward Acres, the City of New Rochelle is not allowed to limit access to the Acres by non-residents. This prohibitively expensive fee looks like it could be considered a "de facto" limitation.

Of course, the glaring question is: Why is the City Council voting to penalize dog owners? Surely it is in the best interest of New Rochelle and the surrounding towns to foster communities of healthy, well-adjusted dogs. The punitive fees and restrictive hours send a thoroughly anti-dog and anti-dog-owning message. Is this kind of pointless discrimination really what New Rochelle should stand for?

“Don’t dogs and dog owners make up a relatively small percentage of the population of New Rochelle?”

       Who knows! The New Rochelle City Council spent $75,000 of taxpayers’ money on the Vollmer Report to study Ward Acres. But it’s unclear if the study included any hard data on who uses Ward Acres now (and in what numbers) and who is likely to use it under the new regulations.

      Ward Acres is used now by both dog owners and people without dogs. There are certainly more than enough acres for all of us! We urge the City to adopt a fair on-leash/off-leash policy and then actually do some research to determine who is using the park, how Ward Acres might better serve the community, and how the New Rochelle community might better serve our beautiful acres.

"And what's wrong with reviving the proposed three acre fence?  Isn’t that more than enough space for the dogs to exercise?"

       In fact, three acres is hardly any exercise space for a mid-size dog, let alone a larger one, or several dogs at once. Lulu can run three acres in less than a minute, and a three acre dog run would simply not be very interesting or beneficial to her. A "Dog Run" is something very different from what our dogs experience now at Ward Acres.  

     When Lulu visits Ward Acres, she darts through the woods, exploring nooks and crannies of the forest, running back and forth between our family, walking on the path, and the densely wooded brush, where she is free to chase squirrels and utilize her natural instincts. If we restricted the dogs to a three-acre enclosed area, that vital experience would be lost. Furthermore, while the dogs get along very well with each other on the large, 62 acre park where they can come and go as they please, enclosing many dogs in a three acre space would potentially fuel territoriality and conflict. The great asset of Ward Acres is that it fosters a community of healthy, happy, well-adjusted dogs. Let’s keep it that way!

It is also questionable whether such a fence would be legal under the NY State Conservation which requires Ward Acres to remain "predominately open and natural."

"Why must the dog community have off-leash hours at Ward Acres? It seems like this is a pretty extraordinary demand. Nowhere else has such lenient policies regarding off-leash dogs…"

Ward Acres IS truly a unique and extraordinary place, and it has fostered a unique and extraordinary community of citizens and friends. Allowing our dogs to run and explore off-leash in the park is a beautiful and humane opportunity that is incredibly healthy for New Rochelle's dogs, and by extension for New Rochelle and its environs. We encourage everyone to come to Ward Acres! The only way to understand WHY we feel so passionate about Ward Acres and our community there is to experience it for yourself.

We understand the need ultimately to monitor and regulate use of the park. That is why we are proposing—and have proposed—fair compromises that will allow access to the park for all users. It’s also important to note that Ward Acres HAS largely been a regulated community over the years—a self-regulated one! Dog owners maintain a trash disposal system, attempt to curb the further growth of invasive vines, pick up after their dogs, and regularly clean up litter from the park (see the Sunday BEER CAN clean-up section of this site for more details of our efforts.) It has always been our priority to maintain and beautify Ward Acres so that it can be enjoyed by one and all.

The fact that Ward Acres is such a special place is EXACTLY WHY we feel it is worth preserving. Come experience it for yourself, and see how much you feel really needs to be changed. Certainly improvements must be made: we must care for the woods, continue our efforts against littering and tear out the invasive vines that threaten the trees and other plant life. But the dog-owning community is part of the solution, NOT part of the problem--as the City Council seems to believe. Work with us to maintain the park in better condition and keep it accessible to all users who love it!

We Love Ward Acres  *  New Rochelle  *  New York