A petition to encourage the Town of Huntington to allow leashed dogs at Heckscher Park gained support online Thursday but the town says it is looking for alternatives.
Karen Thomas created the petition at Change.org, contrasting Heckscher Park with Northport Park where leashed dogs are allowed.
“Let’s Make Huntington Heckscher Park a Dog-Friendly Park! Surprisingly, unlike nearby dog-friendly Northport Harbor, Huntington Heckscher Park does not benefit from a dog-friendly environment. Huntington Heckscher does NOT allow leashed dogs. Recently, unaware Huntingtonians with leashed dogs have been harassed by Heckscher’s patrolling staff warning and asking them to leave if they bring leashed dogs. Huntington is a town proud of its tradition of inclusivity and Heckscher Park should reflect that belief,” the petition reads.
After posting it to the Huntington Matters Community Forum on Facebook, the petition had 620 likes by 7:10 p.m., and dozens of comments.
But the town noted that it restricts for a reason. “Most of our parks allow dogs on-leash but Heckscher was specifically recommended as off-limits to dogs (in the Town Code) by our trails committee for various reasons, including the protection of water fowl, water quality, and vegetation, and due to the narrow trails, which make escape from an unwanted interaction difficult,” town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said.
“The Supervisor’s office is looking into establishing nearby dog-friendly alternatives,” Lembo said.
Thomas’s petition is addressed to Town Councilman Gene Cook, as well as Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Council members Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol and the town parks and recreation department.
Thomas quoted the Long Island Dog Owners Group, which advocates for more space for dogs, as saying, “The leashed dogs policy works well in Northport, not to mention thousands of other busy community parks around the country, and there’s no reason to think Heckscher Park should be different.”
She also said, “Because dogs aren’t allowed at Heckscher, the park wastes tax payer money, since it is virtually empty when there aren’t events. Walking dogs keep Huntington’s tax paying citizens and their dogs healthy and also discourages geese from coming up on the pathways, which could keep the pathways free of goose droppings, a health hazard for the children and adults who visit Heckscher. Because of the messy goose excrement, an attendant at Heckscher is unnecessarily tasked each day with washing down the pathways, another waste of money. These geese have had preference over Huntington’s local dog community for long enough.”