Thursday, August 31, 2006

Say goodbye to leash law protection

How long do you think it will take before the city coffers are drained by personal injury lawsuits brought on by dog related injuries? The article below is from the New York Post:


August 30, 2006 -- Dog owners worried about a lawsuit targeting off-leash privileges for pooches in public parks, may be able to loosen their own collars.

For nearly 20 years, dogs have been allowed to frolic unleashed in certain public areas, according to the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups.

But the Juniper Park Civic Association, of Middle Village, Queens, sued last May, saying Parks officials have been barking up the wrong tree.

They maintain that the no-leash policy violates the city's health code.

"We certainly don't want to have the confusion that led to this lawsuit to continue," city lawyer Paula Van Meter said yesterday at a Queens Supreme Court hearing.

Van Meter said in court that the city intends to change the wording of the regulation to clearly give the Parks Commissioner the right to open parks to unleashed dogs

Another upstanding citizen and responsible dog owner

Below is a fairly typical example of the e-mails and discussion group comments created by offleash dog advocates. I can't even count the times dog owners use the term "fascist" or "nazi" when referring to us folks demanding enforcement of the leash laws:

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 10:06:49 EDT


Subject: No Subject

Who the hell do you think you people are for wanting dogs to be leashed at all times? What kind of soul-less, pathetic people are you? The law will NEVER change. Get used to it or move out of the city. You are a total DISGRACE.

NYC Health Code in trouble

Below are the scenarios that can occur once the judge makes his ruling regarding "off leash privileges. It is an issue that should be taken very seriously if you value your time in the city green spaces. This is an example of a small interest group with a loud voice forcing their agenda on the vast majority of New York City residents. The source of the material is (ironically) from the FIDO website:

"NYCdog’s analysis about what this could mean for the dog owners of NYC that rely on Offleash Hours:

Several scenarios could occur at this point:

1) The judge could decide that the JPCA does not have standing and dismisses the case without a ruling. Our side strenuously argued that the JPCA does not have standing (see the NYCdog Memorandum of Law on

2) If the judge decides that the JPCA does have standing, he could still rule in favor of the Parks Department, which would mean there would be no change in the Parks Offleash Policy.

3) If the judge decides that the JPCA does have standing, he could rule in favor of the JPCA.

If the judge rules in favor of the JPCA, there is a good chance that the Parks Department will automatically appeal the ruling. This would grant a stay to any decision Judge Kelly renders and the case goes to the Appellate Court. This could take from 1-2 years.

In the meantime, as stated openly in court by the City’s Corporation Counsel, the City will immediately begin the 90-day process of attempting to append the Leash Law to accommodate Park Offleash Hours. If this process is successful, it would render any court decision, either in Supreme Court or Appellate Court moot with regard to the Offleash Policy, and Offleash in NYC Parks would continue and be even stronger than before, since it would then be codified into law. For the past 20 years, the Offleash Hours has been a discretionary accommodation from several different Parks commissioners. Codifying Offleash Hours into law would preserve the current policy and the NYC dog owner community would not have to worry about Offleash Hours continuing or disappearing with the arrival of each new Parks Commissioner.

So, it is possible that Parks could lose this case, yet Offleash Hours would survive stronger than ever because the City will attempt to change the law to specifically permit Offleash Hours and dog parks."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Some support letters

It hasn't been 24 hours and the JPCA has been receiving letters of support. Here are a couple:

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 12:44:05 -0400


Subject: Leash Law Enforcement

Robert Holden:

Thanks for your litigation efforts toward protecting public park space from appropriation by private Kennel and Dog Weapon Clubs.

I have lived at West 90th Street, Manhattan, since 1978, one block from Riverside Park and I avoid Giuliani's 88th Street Dog Run because it has been made barren by a clay topping, it stinks of dog waste and the dogs bark and snarl at anyone who comes within 30 feet of the dog run fencing.

Furthermore, there has been a "Robert Moses Highway Effect", where the number of dogowners increases and the number of dogs kept by each owner increases as the dog run accommodations increase. Now, my impression is that more dogs use Riverside Park than chilldren, and space devoted to the 72nd Street, 87th Street and 105th Street dog runs rivals the space devoted to children's playgrounds.

[ ... ]

Dan Matsis

* * * * * * * * * *

Subject: Leash Law Enforcement
Date: 8/30/06 9:26 PM

To Robert Holden:

As the owner of a pit bull for the past eight years, I would like to commend the Juniper Park Civic Association for filing this long overdue lawsuit to get the city to enforce its own health regulations regarding the leash law. I am particularly concerned with the situation in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, which has become one gigantic de facto dog park.

I haven't felt comfortable in Prospect Park for many years. I don't like being forced to interact with strange dogs that are running loose. The problem is in your face, impossible to ignore and it crops up everywhere in the park, at all times. For this reason alone, I tend to avoid entering Prospect Park, and I rarely visit, even though I am an enthusiastic birder and live just one block away from the park. The constant presence of these poorly trained, uncontrollable loose animals (and their unsympathetic owners) has deprived me of a major source of exercise and recreation.

Proponents of off leash hours have often cited safety as a benefit accrued by allowing off leash hours in the park. Owners walking dogs on leash can be just as much of a visible crime deterrent. Dogs on leash are better protectors of their owners, and they can't run away and/or cause traffic accidents. People who acquire large breeds unsuited to a city lifestyle should not expect fellow citizens to give up their park space, safety and access in order to accommodate the exercise needs of these animals.

In a borough with so little per capita green space, it seems bizarre that privately owned dogs should take priority when it comes to determining parks policy. Many people (including myself) are wary of unfamiliar dogs, for good reason. Some people are downright terrified of dogs, as I am well aware, as the owner of a pit bull. Children, old folks, and people without the means to escape the city are those whom the designers of the parks had in mind when they created their urban refuges. Unfortunately, the current Park Administration has seemingly turned a deaf ear to complaints about illegally unleashed dogs. Do they really consider dogs to be more important than people?

Respectfully yours,

Kimberly Edwin
Brooklyn, NY 11238

And it only gets worse

The "Off-leash" dog advocacy groups have pulled out all stops. They've added new websites to generate support to allow dogs to run off leash in public parks. Why? Because it appears that regardless of the JPCA lawsuit outcome, Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of Parks & Regulation, plans to try and change the health code. That means no more protection from unleashed dogs. See this page:

-Click here for court proceedings-

Keep checking back to this website for our campaign's plans.

Lawsuit update

The following is from the "FIDO" website. FIDO is the Brooklyn dog owners group who, essentially, created the Prospect Park dog problem:

"Juniper Park Lawsuit Argued Before the Judge today

The short version is that Judge will render his decision based on a strict interpretation of the law: that the City Health Code specifies that dogs must be on a six foot leash. Under consideration is whether Juniper Park Civic Association has the public standing/right to initiate such a major lawsuit against the Parks Department. Also under consideration is whether the City Parks Commissioner is empowered to make concessions that violate the City Health Code. The Judge will not consider whether Off-Leash hours benefit the public good.

The good news out of this hearing is that the City announced that it WILL seek to change the City Health code regarding dogs in the next 90 days; make exceptions where it benefits the public good."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

JPCA Lawsuit update

No word yet from the plaintiffs. I'll post as soon as I know something.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Rules & Regulation regarding dogs

There appear to be a lot of armchair lawyers in cyberspace the post lots of "facts" about leash laws in New York City parks. To put the presumptions, rumors and half-truths to rest I've researched the relevant rules and regulations of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. One interesting fact I learned is that the creation of Prospect Park's "Doggie Beach" is a violation of the rules:

§1-04 Prohibited Uses

(b) Destruction or Abuse of Trees, Plants, Flowers, Shrubs and Grass

(1) (i) No person shall deface, write upon, injure, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any trees under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner. (ii) No person shall deface, write upon, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any plants, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

(3) No person shall go upon or allow any animal or child in his or her custody to go upon any area enclosed by fencing, temporary or permanent, where such fencing or signs posted thereon reasonably indicate that entry into such area is forbidden.

(g) Abuse of Park Animals

(1) No person shall within any park (including any zoo area) molest, chase, wound, trap, hunt, shoot, throw missiles at, kill or remove any animal, any nest, or the eggs of any amphibian, reptile or bird; or knowingly buy, receive, have in his or her possession, sell or give away any such animal or egg taken from or killed within any park (including any zoo area).

(i) Failure to Control Animals

Except as specified in §1-05(s)(3), no person owning or possessing any animal shall cause or allow such animal to be unleashed or out of control in any park, except as permitted by the Commissioner. Any such animal found at large may be seized and impounded. Properly licensed dogs and cats, restrained by a leash not exceeding six feet in length, may be brought into the park, except in no event shall dogs or other animals be allowed to enter any playground, zoo, bathing facilities, or other area prohibited by the Commissioner. Nothing in this subdivision (i) shall be construed to prohibit persons with disabilities from bringing seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs or other dogs trained to assist such persons into these areas. Nothing herein shall prohibit horses entering or being within a park as provided in § 1-05 (q).

(j) Control and Removal of Animal Waste

(1) No person shall allow any dog in his custody or control to discharge any fecal matter in any park unless he promptly removes and disposes of same. This provision shall not apply to a guide dog accompanying a person with a disability.

(r) Unhygienic use of fountains, pools, and water

No person shall use, or permit any animal under his or her control to use, any water fountain, drinking fountain, pool, sprinklers, reservoir, lake or any other water contained in the park for the purpose of washing or cleaning himself or herself, his or her clothing or other personal belongings. This subdivision shall not apply to those areas within the parks which are specifically designated for personal hygiene purposes (i.e., bathroom, shower room, etc.), provided, however, that no person shall wash his or her clothes or personal belongings in such areas.

§1-05 Regulated Uses

(s) Exclusive Areas

Areas within the parks designated by the Commissioner for exclusive use shall include:

(3) Dog Runs: Certain fenced park areas may be designated by the Commissioner as dog runs, and persons owning or possessing dogs are permitted to allow such animals to remain unleashed in these areas. Users of dog runs shall obey posted rules.All exclusive areas will be specifically designated as such and signs will be posted informing the public of this designation.

(q) Horse Riding

(1) No person may ride a horse in any park, except on bridle paths designated by the Department.

(2) It shall be a violation of these Rules to ride a horse into or within a park in a reckless manner; to allow the horse to be left unbridled or unattended; or to allow the horse to cause any damage to any tree, plant, flower, shrubbery or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department.

§1-07 Penalties

(a) Any violation of these Rules other than Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than ninety days imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both, in accordance with § 533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

(b) Any violation of Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than one year imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $15,000, or both.

(c) Any violation of these Rules shall also constitute a violation triable by the Environmental Control Board and punishable by a civil penalty of not more than $10,000, in accordance with §533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

Another reason to leash your dog

For reason's I can't put my finger on, I feel much more empathy towards little "Henry James" than to his (former) owners. From my observations of the Prospect Park dog owner social scene I suspect that she looked away for a bit more than just "a moment" especially when I read, "I took him off the leash and he went wildly running off in the distance".

Dog lost in Prospect Park may be hostage

By Lilo H. Stainton

The Brooklyn Papers

A missing Jack Russell terrier — who may have been dog-napped — prompted a desperate search of Prospect Park, an outpouring of help from Brooklyn dog lovers and a flood of bizarre telephone calls to the pup’s anxious owners.

Police have even joined the search for Henry James, the terrier who was last seen cavorting in Prospect Park’s Long Meadow shortly before 9 am on Oct. 27. When the dog’s owners received a call 12 hours later from a stranger who wanted $2,000 in exchange for their pet, the owners alerted the 78th Precinct.

“It was his favorite thing in the world,” owner Amy Lawday explained, recalling that last morning in the meadow, where park rules permit dogs to run free from 5 pm until 9 am. “I took him off the leash and he went wildly running off in the distance.”

Lawday said she kept close watch over the 1-year-old dog. But when she turned away for a moment, Henry James disappeared.

With the help of other dog owners and police, Lawday, a Bedford Stuyvesant resident, and her friend, Dian Needham, combed the park on foot and in four-wheeled vehicles.

The search extended beyond the park’s perimeter: one woman printed 500 copies of a flier describing the missing dog, and volunteers plastered the posters on trees and bulletin boards in communities around the park. A friend listed their contact information in the “lost and found” section of the Web site

“It was just absolutely devastating,” Lawday said, adding that she is still shaking. “We just could not believe this was happening.”

But the nightmare had only begun.

At 9 pm, Needham’s phone rang which she and Lawday were driving to a friend’s house in Brooklyn Heights for a “cheer-up” dinner. A man said, “We’ve got Henry,” Lawday recalled.

“I had never been so happy in my life,” Lawday said. But her glee was short-lived.

The caller wanted to know where they lived, but wouldn’t commit to returning the dog. He also said his niece had become very attached to Henry James. “I don’t think she can give him up,” the man said, according to Lawday.

“But it’s our dog,” Lawday told him. “This is family.”

Their desperation mounting, Lawday said they promised the man anything: a new puppy for the niece, even money. The stranger dismissed their suggestion of a $200 “finder’s fee” and demanded $2,000 — that very night. Lawday insisted they meet in a public place.

They decided on a spot for the exchange, a gas station at the corner of Caton and Coney Island avenues, and the caller promised to call again when he left work at 3 am.

When he did phone, Lawday — growing skeptical of the man’s claims — pushed him for a detailed description of Henry James. The man became testy, stalled, and eventually said the dog was elsewhere at the time. He promised to call again, when he got the pet, but Lawday and Needham have not heard from him again.

Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Harris, commanding officer at the 78th Precinct, said the “dog-napping” report was unusual. But police cannot be sure the mystery caller had the dog, he noted. “She’s put up fliers and everything,” Harris said. “And the dog’s collar has her number on it.”

In fact, the “ransom” call was not the only response the couple received in their search. Lawday said they have had dozens of calls and not all of the tipsters have been well-intentioned. The calls highlight “the best and worst of people” she said.

One person phoned to say, “We just had Henry James on the bar-be-que and he was delicious!” Lawday said.

“The hardest thing now,” after the tireless volunteer effort, Lawday said, is that the fliers are coming down and, “the calls are drying up.” And Henry James remains missing.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Just everyday people

I've been searching for relevant forums and posting information about this blog and the online petition. In general, the response has been positive. There's a small group of folks over at the Brooklynian forums who act as though they need their prescriptions changed. Anyway, let the courts work it out.

Along the lines of strange people I stumbled across the following blog posting. I think the blog is called "Pretentious" (it hard to tell from the design). It will give you a look into one dog owner's attitude of entitlement. Note also that the FIDO website used to give the same advice on how to avoid getting a ticket. When I complained to the parks department, FIDO removed it from their website:

"First Offense

January 17, 2006

This is just an FYI for any dog-owners who happens to live in the Prospect Heights/Park Slope area. There is some lady (an Officer Rose) from the Parks department writing tickets like crazy for dogs off the leash in Mount Prospect. Yes, its sign posted that dogs should be on the leash. Our bad (because Wifey got a ticket!). But bearing in mind that its $25 for a parking ticket and $100 for dog-owners! One hundred dollars!? Thats pretty steep. I wish the Parks Department would be more concerned with those people who let their dogs shit all over the parks and side-walks. Or the ones who are off the leash in the neighborhood streets when traffic and children are around. I'm also a little peeved that they chose now to enforce this. We've had our dog off the leash so often while the Parks Dept was around (as in within 10 feet of us and not just 'in the park somewhere'). I had the impression that as long as your dog was visibly under control that the leash was not an issue. I was wrong.

I know there's no happy medium - you either enforce off-the-leash offences or not. Call me old-fashioned but whatever happened to giving a warning on your first offense? You get that sometimes when you're speeding, right? The owner of Bar Sepia has had two tickets (one for each dog) which is excessive. However shes going to court to fight that.

If you happen to be a dog-owner and someones writing you a ticket, I have a piece of advice...

Hypothetically speaking, if I were caught (cos our dog is extremely friendly and well behaved that I'm going to give her a chance to run when no one else is around) I would not be inclined to give my real name and address. When I walk my dog I rarely have my wallet etc. on me... but thats all just hypothetical... In the meantime, if I see any Parks workers I'll make sure the leash is back on and I'll deny everything until I'm blue in the face. Failing that, just call me Kenny "Buck" Rogers... We payed the fine this time, but Officer Rose can go to hell as far as I'm concerned. [ ... ]
Posted by michael at January 17, 2006 10:18 AM"

Friday, August 25, 2006

11 Years Ago

Well, it seems like some things never change. At least, from a legal standpoint, New York City officials can't claim ignorance of the problem. It has been thoroughly documented. Would any judge rule in favor of the city in a personal injury lawsuit resulting from an unleashed dog in a city park?

Here are some 11 year old opinions from the New York Times:

Don't Limit Park Rangers Pursuing Dogs Off Leash

Published: June 18, 1995

To the Editor:

It is ridiculous for dog owners to complain about the crackdown on leash-less dogs in the parks when they have been flagrantly disregarding the law for years. Those of us who are not dog lovers or dog connoisseurs should not be expected to know which ones are dangerous as we meekly try to jog by while they all run about in wild packs. Dog owners sometimes reassure me when I cringe or shriek -- "Oh, don't worry; Fluffy doesn't bite!" -- as if I'm supposed to know that about Fluffy. Dogs should always be on leashes. And if they're so big they can't get enough exercise without being let off the leash, then they shouldn't be kept in New York apartments. KATE FLANAGAN Manhattan

Don't Limit Park Rangers Pursuing Dogs Off Leash

Published: June 18, 1995

To the Editor:

As far as I'm concerned, Park Rangers can't be too aggressive in dealing with dog owners ("Pet Owners Growl: Rangers Are Too Dogged," June 4). Many mornings I run around Washington Square Park and see many dog owners ignoring signs instructing them to keep their dogs leashed. One section of the park has been turned into a dog run, which is a ridiculous waste given all the money and work that went into restoring this beautiful park. And now another section is being destroyed by dogs. PAUL K. PICCONE Manhattan

Barking and Off the Leash, Dogs Spoil Stuyvesant Park

Published: June 11, 1995

To the Editor:

Dog owners break the law daily in city parks other than Riverside ("Pet Owners Growl: Rangers Are Too Dogged," June 4). My apartment is opposite Stuyvesant Park, and every morning from 7 to 9 and evenings from 5 to 8 there are many dog owners present in the park with unleashed dogs. These owners, busily conversing with each other, allow their dogs to bark constantly and to run wild in and out of areas planted with flowers.

One morning I approached a group of them to ask if they could please stop their dogs from barking so much. They looked at me as if I was intruding on their turf, and didn't respond. So I repeated the question just in case they hadn't heard, but they still didn't respond.

A dog owner in the article reasoned that enforcement officials should be pursuing crack addicts in the park rather than dogs off the leash. But the reality is that any behavior that disturbs the peace by two- or four-legged animals is and should be a justifiable target for law enforcement. SANDY BERGER Manhattan

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Are New Yorkers responsible dog owners?

I just stumbled on the following article on the website of New York State Senator John D. Sabini. It's a telling statistic:


Licensing Ensures Safety and Could Yield Millions in Revenue: Sabini

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

State Senator John D. Sabini (D/WF-Jackson HTS) has introduced a bill to remind people that not only is it against the law to own an unlicensed dog, but it endangers people and deprives New York of crucial funds, too. The bill was swiftly passed in the Consumer Protection committee, of which Senator Sabini is a member, on June 1.

There are about 900,000 unlicensed dogs owned by New York City residents alone, according to New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. At $8.50 per sterilized dog and $11.50 per non-sterilized one, compliance with the law could bring $8-10 million to City coffers.

Senator Sabini's bill, S5454, forces pet stores and other dog vendors to notify buyers at the time of sale that State law requires dogs to be licensed with the local municipality in which they reside (e.g., the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York City).

"The lower cost of licensing a sterilized dog, as well as a license application's reminder that all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by law, encourages practices that protect both animals and the public," Senator Sabini said. "More licensed dogs means less strays running around threatening to bite people in the street."

Licensing also protects the dogs themselves, because unlicensed dogs cannot easily be returned to their owners when they get separated, leading to New York City's staggeringly high dog euthanasia rate. According to The New York Observer, almost 70 percent of the animals that enter the shelter system each year--or about 100 per year--are put down every year partly because they're not licensed (licensing provides certificates of ownership and dog tags). Animal Care & Control of New York City estimates that only one percent of unlicensed dogs are returned to their owners after being separated.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dreier-Offerman Park

For a change, this posting is not about unleashed dogs in city parks but is no less important.

Dreier-Offerman Park, in Brooklyn, is just another ignored and abused city park. An aquaintance, who prefers to remain anonymous on this site, submitted the following letter to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Residents of Gravesend should consider sending in their own letters.

* * * * * * * * * *

August 17th, 2006

Commissioner Adrian Benepe
The Arsenal, Central Park
830 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Subject: Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend, Brooklyn

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

I recently read a July 25th, 2006 New York Daily news article about an illicit attempt by a private soccer league to install an upgraded sprinkler system by digging trenches for irrigation pipes in Dreier-Offerman Park. This inappropriate behavior by the local soccer league follows other unauthorized behavior, such as the installation of light towers. Usurpation by a single-minded special interest group is troublesome and illegal for a publicly financed city park.

My purpose in contacting you is to urge you to put forth a long overdue master plan and improvement implementations that will create undisputed park identity. It should include restoring natural elements and comprehensive amenities to an undeveloped park mostly forgotten and long neglected. I recalled not long ago that the Parks Natural Resources Group did devise or attempt a partial master plan focused on restoring or mitigating the natural shoreline. This project was never consummated, leaving Dreier-Offerman Park at the mercy of unauthorized park users intent on creating their own agendas. A master plan that emphasizes nature-oriented habitats, along with aesthetically enriching environments and walkways will create a park welcomed by many different park visitors. As it stands now, Dreier-Offerman Park is dominated by athletic fields and open spaces, with little to no amenities for any park patron desiring non-athletic activities, i.e., simple strolls in the woods, picnicking, birdwatching, nature activities, children facilities, etc.

Sadly, Dreier Offerman has received little attention from the parks department ever since its creation in 1962. More evidence for her obscurity and lack of respect, was a proposal for a private golf course! Furthermore, many asphalt driveways and roads now ruin most of the Dreier -Offerman parkland. Dreier -Offerman is simply abused by numerous indifferent and uncaring sources.

Because of its proximity to the waterfront and its superb location as a rich bird migration and winter coastal region within the Atlantic Flyway, Dreier-Offerman Park is highly productive for bird life. Despite its scarcity of native diversified forest and teeming invasive weed infested lots the park draws a good variety of bird species. Due to its prime location and penchant for attracting bird life, Dreier-Offerman is explored annually in December during the Christmas Bird Census. I remembered a recent visit seeing Killdeer and rare Eastern Meadowlark and Rusty Blackbirds on the fields, an astounding sighting of a migrating Peregrine Falcon. Sparrows and waterfowl were plentiful. Many different duck species were seen in Coney Island Creek, as well as offshore in Gravesend Bay.

If Dreier-Offerman Park attracts a decent diversity of bird life in its current state, how much richer would it become if incorporated in a “green” master plan? I refer to a user study done in 1991, conducted by a social scientist hired by the Riverside Park Fund, attesting to this park concept: people favored removal of illicit activities, greater riverfront access, upgrading of recreational facilities and amenities.

To consolidate my argument for Dreier-Offerman Park's natural significance, simply refer to the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Project. Authorized by the United States Congressional Resolution of April 15th 1999,the HRE Project named Dreier-Offerman Park one of thirteen representative sites for coastal and wetland restoration projects. Because of long termed habitat degradation along the Hudson River ecological complex, the dire need to restore coastal ecology and environment is necessary for functional and systemic integrity and quality of life for water ecology and wildlife resources (http:/ ).

Dreier-Offerman Park would be an ideal model for coastal and upland mitigation and restoration. This 75- acre park that offers grand views of southern New York harbor is due for an extensive makeover; the possibility of a tidal wetland or coastal rich ecosystem, an enhanced forested, shrubby and vegetated environment to augment the waterways and shores is of utmost importance.

Commissioner Benepe, protect this city park from further decline and exploitation. Prevent future illegal exploitation by self-serving parties and create a balanced, nature-oriented master plan for this important coastal location. Dreier –Offerman needs your help in securing a Conceptual Master Plan. Manhattan’s Riverside Park, once appalling, now stands as a stunning waterfront park after capital projects restored the park from its Conceptual Master Plan. The same could be done for Dreier–Offerman Park. (History of Riverside Park)

Recovering new greenspaces such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Spring Creek landfill park conversion, and restored parks like Marine Park Salt Marsh Center enhance Brooklyn are past examples of a success with critically needed outdoor havens for the people of New York City. Make Dreier-Offerman Park part of that success story.


Honorable Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Honorable Borough President Marty Markowitz
Julius Spiegel, Borough Commissioner
Charles A. Gili, Chief of Operations
Bill Tai, Director of Natural Resources Group
Liam Kavanagh, First Deputy Commissioner
Amy L. Freitag, Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects
U.S Representative Vito Fossella
E.J. McAdams, NYC Audubon"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Are NYC Parks "For Sale"?

Group wants Parks Department probe

Petition says agency needs more transparency, local inclusion
by Patrick Arden / Metro New York

AUG 9, 2006

MANHATTAN — A group of 82 civic leaders are requesting public hearings and legislative oversight to remedy what they call the city Parks Dept.’s “increasing difficulty in reaching agreement” with communities.

The petition — which appeals for greater “transparency” in the awarding of concessions and the alienation of parkland — comes on the heels of bitter controversies, including the current lawsuits over building condominiums in the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park and the taking of 22 acres of parkland for a new YankeeStadium.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and City Councilman Alan Gerson were the only elected officials to sign on, joining members of community boards, neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations.

Gerson, who had been involved in contentious discussions about the planned redesign of Washington Square Park, will introduce legislation next month to require City Council oversight in a range of park matters. The public-private partnerships known as conservancies, for instance, would be required to include representatives of elected officials and to implement an open reporting process.

“I don’t view this in any way as hostile to the Parks Dept.,” Gerson said. “I hope to be helpful to the institution by reinforcing its authority.”

One of the petition organizers, former City Councilwoman Carol Greitzer, is smarting from fights over Washington Square Park and a plan to put a restaurant in the Union Square pavilion. Last week the city decided to appeal a State Supreme Court ruling that the Parks Dept. would have to resubmit its plans to move the fountain in Washington Square to Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“I’ve dealt with Parks Commissioners from way back, and it’s really difficult to work with the department now,” said Greitzer, a Councilwoman from 1969 to 1991. “They are very hostile to public input, and even after they tell you what they’re going to do, they quietly make changes.”

Park conservancies sprouted as a way to fund maintenance in the face of budget cuts to the Parks Dept., but Greitzer worries that they also contribute to park inequities between rich and poor neighborhoods. She also complains that conservancies have no accountability and enable the perpetuation of funding parks through a system of increasing commercialization.

“The parks don’t have a big for-sale sign on them,” said Patricia Dolan, executive vice president of the Queens Civic Congress, a coalition of 110 community groups. “Every time the Parks Dept. peels off a piece of parkland for a private concession, that part of the park is gone for the free use of the public. Once gone, those park properties don’t come back.”

Parks Dept. spokesman Jama Adams said, “The Parks and Recreation Department has an open and transparent process, and follows all state and city laws and regulations for contracts, Parks concession revenues, use, and management of parkland.”

Metro New York
9 August 2006
As you know, many New York communities have had problems with recent decisions from the Parks Department, particularly in regard to concessions. To remedy this situation, we invite you to join with us in signing the following e-mail by return e-mail to this address so we can forward this to the relevant City and State agencies and representatives. Thank you.


In recent years, communities throughout New York City have experienced increasing difficulty in reaching agreement with the New York City Parks Department on a variety of issues concerning the safety and maintenance of our Parks. As persons who care deeply about the Parks in our neighborhoods, we call upon our City and State legislators to hold hearings and to enact legislation providing for:

a. Transparency in the awarding of concessions through legislation that includes a lower threshold for triggering public review and legislative oversight of any such contract.

b. Assignment of monies collected from activities in parks to the maintenance and operations of City parks as an addition to, not a substitute for, city funding for parks.

c. Enforcement of the City's duty to require public participation in and legislative oversight for any proposal for the alienation of any parkland in New York City.

d. Public review and legislative oversight for any transfer of a park's management/operation to a private entity.

(signed/in alphabetical order/organizations for identification only)

Joie A. Anderson, 300 East 77th Street Block Association
Fred Arcaro, president, Manhattan East Community Association
Martin Barrett, Stuyvesant Cove Park Association
Sugar Barry, East 10th Street Block Association (4th/5th Avenues)
Corey Bearak, Esq.
Allen J. Bennett, MD, Area 1 Chair, QueensCB8
Bunnie Blei, Manhattan
Miriam Bockman, former Vice Chair, Board of Standards & Appeals
Meryl Brodsky, District Leader, 73rd A.D., Part A
Arline Bronzaft, Manhattan
Stanley Bulbach, West 15th Street 200 Block Association
Neil Cohen, Concerned Residents of Bay Ridge
Geoffrey Croft, NYC Park Advocates
William E. Curtis, Turtle Bay Association
Louise Dankberg, District Leader, 74th AD, Part C, Tilden Dem.Club
Bess DeBetham, president, Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens; board member, Federated Blocks of Laurelton
Maria De Innocentiis, chairwoman, Civic Association of Utopia Estates
Patricia Dolan, Queens Civic Congress
Marilyn Dorato, Waverly Bank 11 Neighbors
Al Doyle, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association
Myrna Egeth, Friends of St. Vartan Park
Edward M. Fischer, Queens
Judi Francis, Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund
Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
Joy Garland, Stuyvesant Cove Park Association
Alan Gerson, NYC Council Member
Ed Gold, member, ManhattanCB2
Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin, chairperson, Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy
Dick Gottfried, NYS Assembly, 75th AD
Paul Graziano, Queens Civic Congress
Jonathan Greenberg, The Open Washington Square Park Coalition
Scott Greenspan, member, ManhattanCB6
Carol Greitzer, former City Council Member
E. Ronald Guy, president, St. Marks Methodist Church; member, ManhattanCB10
Lesley Nan Haberman, headmistress, The Family Schools (Dag Hammarskjold Plaza)
Jo Hamilton, member, ManhattanCB2
Richard C. Hellenbrecht, chair, QueensCB13
Tami Hirsch, President of Civic Association of Utopia Estates
Robert F. Holden, president, Juniper Park Civic Association, Inc.
Ross Horowitz, Citizens For Union Square
Ellen Imbimbo, Murray Hill Neighborhood Association
Garry Anthony Johnson, member, Manhattan CB10
David Kulick, Flushing on the Hill Civic Association
Alan Lawrence, 279 East 44 Street Tenants Association
Danyal Lawson, piano faculty, Greenwich House Music School
Aubrey Lees, former chair, ManhattanCB2
Jules Vigh Lebowitz, Manhattan
Perry Luntz, former president, Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club
Jessie McNab, vice president, West Village Committee
Rafael Merino, chair, economic development committee, ManhattanCB11
Stanley Norwalk, Queens
Gary Papush, Parks and Landmarks Committee, Manhattan CB6
Tom Payne, citizen
Irene Peveri, co-chair, East Side Rezoning Alliance
Ernest Raab. vice chairperson, Union Square Community Coalition.
David B. Reck, Friends of Hudson Square
Margery Reifler, Grove Street Block Association
Carol Rinzler, former co-chair, Manhattan Neighborhood Council
Lou Rispoli, president, 41-36 51st Street Owners Corp. (Woodside)
Carl Rosenstein, Trees Not Trucks
Margie Rubin, Disabled in Action
Jacob Ruppert, of counsel, Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association
Jeannie Sakol, Friends of Detmold Park
Jean C. Silva, Commissioner, NYC
Carol Schachter, president, Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Assoc.
Jon Schachter, member, Bellevue Hospital CAB; public member, Manhattan CB 5&6
Arthur Schwartz, chair, parks and waterfront committee, ManhattanCB2
Betty Schwartz, public member, Manhattan CB6
Seymour Schwartz, Briarwood Community Association
Shirley Secunda, Member, ManhattanCB2
Edy Selman, Emergency Comm.Org. to Save Washington Square Park
Edith Shanker, Campaign to Save Union Square Park.
Simone Sindin, president/board of directors, Coliseum Park Apartments
Harbachan Singh,president,Sikh American Friendship Foundation; member,QueensCB8
Teri Slater, chair, East 78th Street Block Association(Park/Lex)
Norma Stegmaier, Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association
Sean Sweeney, SoHo Alliance
Jack Taylor, board member, Union Square Community Coalition
Joyce Tosti, Community Associate, QueensCB13
James A. Trent, Queens Civic Congress
Annie Vanrenterghem-Raven, member, ManhattanCB2
Sean M. Walsh, president, Queens Civic Congress
George Watson, co-chair, Chelsea-Village Partnership
Edwin Westley, Jackson Heights Beautification Group; member, QueensCB3
Linda Wood-Guy, board member, Friends of Jackie Robinson Park; member, Friends of St. Nicholas Park
Phyllis Yampolsky, president, McCarren Park Conservancy

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

JPCA Press Release

Parks Commissioner Benepe puts muzzle on NYC community boards. Will not allow local input from boards on unleashed dog issue. JPCA lawsuit against Benepe Moves Forward.

(Middle Village, NY August 8, 2006) On May 31, 2006 the Juniper Park Civic Association obtained an Order to Show Cause in the New York State Supreme Court against the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation for allowing dogs to run off their leashes from 9pm to 9am in violation of the NYC Health Code.

The JPCA took this action after 8 years of asking Parks Commissioners to stop endangering park users by promoting the clear violation of the NYC Leash Law. On June 27th, at a hearing in Queens Supreme Court, Judge Peter Kelly asked that representatives of both sides try to reach a compromise on the civic association's lawsuit.

The two sides met on July 7th at the Arsenal, Parks’ headquarters in Central Park. Parks offered that it would enforce the leash law in Juniper Valley Park if the JPCA agreed to allow a dog run there. JPCA attorney Gabriel Tapalaga reminded Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski and Parks attorneys that the JPCA lawsuit was on behalf of all NYC Parks and a dog run in Juniper Park would not address the city wide problem. Additionally, since the JPCA is not a city agency it is not in a position to accept or decline a dog run in any park.

The JPCA offered a workable and real compromise. As mandated by the NYC Charter, Parks is required to work with community boards. Since the community board structure is already set up it would be a perfect fit to let each community board decide on whether or not a local park or parks should opt out of the (unofficial) off-leash courtesy hours. Since some parks are adjacent to schools and churches it would be logical to let each community board study the situation and vote to opt out or allow unleashed dogs in particular parks during the 9pm to 9am hours.

Although the JPCA still recognizes that no commissioner has the authority to encourage NYC residents to break the law, the civic was willing to compromise in order to find a reasonable solution to the problem.

However on Monday, August 7th, an attorney for Parks informed Gabriel Tapalaga that although reasonable, the JPCA proposal was rejected by Commissioner Benepe. "It's obvious that Commissioner Benepe does not want to make a decision on this issue, he would rather leave it up to the judge," said Robert Holden, president of the JPCA. “I don't see how the judge could condone the actions of a commissioner who willfully places park users in harms way, disregards the law and actually tells dog owners to violate the law,” he said.

Holden said that when the commissioner assumed office he took an oath to uphold the laws of New York City. The leash law is one of those laws. "While agencies have discretion when enforcing particular laws it is an entirely different matter to actively encourage the violation of the law,” said Tapalaga.

Commissioner Benepe is also sending a terrible message to community boards that he is not interested in their opinions or input. In June, Community Board 5 of Queens voted unanimously to enforce the leash law at all times within district parks. Benepe once again ignored the board's vote. “This brings up serious issues when a commissioner also ignores the spirit of the NYC's wrong for Commissioner Benepe to ignore the wishes of a community board when he doesn't agree with them," said Holden.

The Queens Civic Congress, representing 104 civic associations, in March voted unanimously to support the Juniper Park Civic Association lawsuit. For more information please call: 718-651-5865.

Robert Holden 718-651-5865
Gabriel Tapalaga, esq. 212-710-9420

Youcan call Marian who on Nov 23rd was knocked down and hurt by an unleashed dog in Central Park 212 348-0988 or email her at:

See attached letter from Ms. Spado also you can speak to her, see letter for number. Below are some letters out of the 200 people who support us withwritten correspondence. (this information will follow in a future posting)


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Central Park photos

Just to make it clear that Prospect Park and Juniper Valley Park aren't the only parks with unleashed dog problems here are some images from Central Park. The photos were sent to me with the following descriptions:

"The dog jumping over the fenced-in area has just come back from chasing the wild turkey that was wandering around the park this spring. The dog next to the sign had jumped into a fenced in area that was planted with native flora. It ran amok in there for a while before the owner decided to get it out. The dog chasing the geese and the dogs in the stream bed are part of a group of 20 or more dogs that are let loosed in the north end of the park each morning by a woman who owns a dog-walking service. Apparently she feels the park is her personal dog run and does not abide by the rules."

Friday, August 04, 2006

"Leash Wars"

The website "AM New York" just published a story entitled "Leash Wars". By the way the story is spun it is obvious that "AM New York" is in favor of unleashed dogs in public places. Conversely, nearly all of the online comments support leash law enforced.

-Click here to read people's comments-

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Dog Park Issue from an Expert

Ed Frawley, is one of the top breeders of working bloodline German Shepherd puppies in the world. His small, family-owned business, Leerburg Video, has produced over 100 dog training videos. His website, "Leerburg Video & Kennel", is a virtual treasure trove of articles, advice, videos and dog health products.

He has an article on his website entitled, ""Dog Parks, Why They Are A Bad Idea". In the article he writes:

"I want to go on record as saying that the concept of 'Dog Parks' was well intended but a bad idea, especially if the dogs are allowed to run off-leash. I do not recommend people take their dogs to these places."

Click Here to Read the Entire Article