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How Can We ALL Share Ward Acres?

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     Since April 1, 2007, when the ordinance went into effect, not only have dog owners been unhappy with the new rules, but even some people who wish to use the park without dogs around are frustrated.  For example, we have heard of a number of complaints from people who want to jog in the park early in the morning but don't want to  with all the dogs.  On the other hand, the lack of true afternoon hours has excluded many dog owners who can only exercise their pets then.  Families with teens can't use the park at all with their dogs - ever try to get teen up before 10am?


     As became apparent during the recent election, the ordinance was ill-advised from the start and is an abject failure as policy - it meets no one's real world needs and unfairly discriminates against dog owners.  The park remains empty most of the day and both canine and non-canine users of the park are unhappy with the unworkable hours.  Community relations have soured.  With three new dog-friendly members having been elected to city council, now is a good time to think about alternatives to the ordinance.

Any amendment or replacement of the ordinance should:
  • preserve and welcome the vibrant dog-owing community that has arisen at Ward Acres,
  • allow significant off-leash recreation throughout the park,
  • promote thorough use and enjoyment of the park by users without dogs and
  • eliminate the fees and photo ID requirement.

The Table below is intended to encourage thinking about alternatives that will help us all enjoy the park.  In any of these scenarios, the city can temporarily suspend off-leash recreation to accomodate a special event or activity. 

Enforcement of any of these proposals is simple - a police officer can respond to any complaint by a park user or simply patrol the park (but we think the police have more important tasks) and stop any dog owner whose dog is off-leash during on-leash hours.

Under construction!  Email us with your ideas & feedback!
 
 
Table of Alternatives
 
Proposal
Pros
Cons
Designate Hours - Enforce the leash law from 12 to 4pm on weekdays and weekends.  Or some other set of hours.

Many people are already comfortable with an hours-based program.  These hours are easy to remember.

Certain times of day remain unavailable to dog owners and non-dog owners.
Alternate Days - Odd days off-leash, even days no dogs at all.
No time of day is unavailable to anyone.
Some dog owners would not be able to exercise their dogs every day. 
 
Since April 1st, use of the park by non-dog owners has been minimal.  Why give them whole days for the park to stand empty? 
 
A Variation - enforce leash law on odd day mornings (before 1 pm) and even day afternoons (after 1 pm). 
Partition the Park - Use the park's natural topography, and maybe some limited fencing, to designate an area for off-leash recreation.
All day every day available to everyone. 
Certain parts of the park remain unavailable to both dog owners and non-dog owners.
Dog Run plus Limited Off-Leash Hours
Allows for limited off-leash exercise all day every day. 
 
For use of the dog run as a facility in a public park, the city could charge a fee and issue dog collar tags (by mail) to offset costs.
Many fear a fenced-in dog run would lead to other structures in the park such as ball fields and playgrounds that would compromise the open and natural character of the park. 
 
Since a dog run is not the same experience as walking through the park, significant off-leash hours should be maintained.  Some worry the city could use the dog run as an excuse to eliminate off-leash hours altogether.
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     We feel that the new regulations imposed by the city are punitive and unfair.

     The New Rochelle City Council has limited off-leash dog hours to early mornings before 10am and to late afternoons after 4 (or 5 in spring and summer months). These times are minimally useful to most people and extremely inconvenient for any typical, busy New Rochelle family or household. The early mornings are spent shuffling children off to school and the late afternoons are occupied with dinnertime, homework and extracurricular activities. And it starts getting dark around 4pm much of the year! The fact that there are no mid-day or afternoon hours, even on the weekends, makes it impossible for many families and households--like Lulu's--to enjoy Ward Acres together, as has been a longstanding, joyful tradition.

To add insult to injury, dog-owners who are New Rochelle residents and wish to use Ward Acres are required to purchase a permit for $50 per dog. Non-residents must pay a prohibitively expensive fee of $250 per dog, despite the fact that the NY State Conservation Law which governs use of Ward Acres prohibits the city from denying access to non-residents. For a more thorough discussion of these fees, see the FAQ section.

Why does the City Council insist upon penalizing dog owners? If the City Council really wanted to, it would be easy to devise a fair compromise that would accomodate dog owners as well as residents who prefer to enjoy Ward Acres without un-leashed dogs or even ANY dogs there.

PLEASE SEND YOUR FAIR PROPOSALS TO US.
WE WILL POST THEM HERE!
 

                           Lulu@WeLoveWardAcres.Net

LULU's PROPOSAL - ALTERNATE DAYS AND THERE WILL BE MORE THAN ENOUGH ACRES FOR ALL OF US:


1.  Just like humans,we dogs really need our exercise. As any dog expert will tell you, there is no substitute for off-leash exercise, and regular exercise is critical to the mental and physical health of dogs like me and my friends. Have you ever tried to work out on a leash?  Under the new regulations, unleashed dogs only get a fraction of Ward Acres hours and NO afternoon hours. The League of Women Voters, a prime advocate against unleashed dog usage of the park, has proposed eliminating morning hours altogether. What's a K-9 gal to do?


2.  One of the joys of my life is frolicking with my owners and their children. By giving us NO weekend afternoons, the City Council has effectively put an end to my Ward Acres romps with my human brothers and sisters. They all attend or have attended New Rochelle public schools, and boy are they busy! Have you ever tried to get a teenager up Saturday morning? Aint gonna happen! I slobber on their faces and jump around on their beds, and it's still impossible to get them up in time!


3.  It would be very easy for unleashed dogs to share Ward Acres with humans in a way that gives everyone plenty of hours, BOTH MORNING AND AFTERNOON.


4.  The simplest solution would be to ALTERNATE DAYS between unleashed dog use and leashed dog use. This proposal allows early-rising humans who do not want unleashed dogs around to get some mornings to themselves and likewise for afternoon users. Perhaps EVEN days of the month would be leashed dogs only (or NO dogs at all) and ODD days would be open to unleashed dogs.  "Odd days off-leash!" 


     We call this the Athenian Solution - it's how Athens manages its vehicular traffic congestion!  Odd-numbered license plated cars can enter the city on odd-numbered days, even on even days.


5.  Under this proposal, dogs and their owners can easily schedule their exercise for the permitted days, likewise for users who do not wish to be around dogs. 


Why wouldn't this be a fair compromise?


- Lulu



RECENT EMAIL FROM A DOG OWNER:

comments: My gosh! What a bunch of babies you are! Do you know there are hardly any parks in Westchester County that allow dogs to begin with! You should be grateful. Instead - you whine. You are all giving dog people a bad name. You should be GRATEFUL!



Our Response:

we have thought alot about the very point you raise.


we are only asking to be treated fairly.  the city, without explanation, eliminated ALL late morning and afternoon hours for off leash dogs AND imposed onerous fees especially on non-residents for a park purchased with state funds and to be improved with COUNTY funds.  the city's actions raise more than just issues about dogs.  and the limited hours create real hardship for many long time users of the park.  why cant they provide us with real afternoon hours?  they have not explained that so we are left with the appearance that the City arbitrarily wishes to favor one constituency over another.


westchester county is notorious for its anit-dog mindset.  many if not most other communities are much more accomodating to dog owners.  while we readily admit that the city is being relatively generous, other westchester towns' policies should not be the standard by which to judge new ro.


people move out here thinking they can enjoy a suburban lifestyle with the family pet, only to find as you say there are "hardly any parks" here that allow dogs!  


we welcome sharing the park with non-dog users.  a simple solution would be to declare odd numbered days off-leash and even numbered days no dogs at all or dogs only on a leash.  would you object to that?  if not, then why cant we agitate for such a policy, within the limits of civil discourse?


 jeff & lulu


We Love Ward Acres  *  New Rochelle  *  New York