Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Sad Outcome for Dogs and for Hudson

In the past twenty years, there have been a few nights at City Hall that could take your breath away--not in a good way. Last night was one of them.

Alderman Delaney
When the attention of the Council turned to the local law "Amending Dog Licensing Procedures and Abolishing the Prohibition of Dogs at the Henry Hudson Waterfront Park," Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) immediately moved to strike Section 5-3, the part that repealed the ban on dogs in riverfront park. At that point, by some previously worked out orchestration, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), chair of the Legal Committee, which had proposed the amendments, presented to his fellow aldermen the petition, which Gossips had delivered to the alderman electronically earlier in the day, when it had 175 signatures, and which, as it was printed in preparation for the meeting, had 191 signatures. (The petition now has 204 signatures, but it doesn't matter anymore.)

Alderman Donahue
Upon receiving the petition, the first words out of the mouth of Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) were, "Does that mean 191 people will be walking their dogs there?" A bit later in the discussion, Friedman described his experience of walking his dog regularly in riverfront park, attesting to the respectful, law-abiding behavior of other dog walkers. He asked Donahue how often he visited riverfront park, commenting, "I've never seen you there." Donahue countered, "I only go down there when you're not there."

Alderman Garriga
Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) made two comments that seem to get to the heart of the problem. She expressed the opinion that there should be a dog park separate from riverfront park, and she observed that "a lot of people who signed the petition have backyards." Her comments suggest that she, and the rest of the aldermen who opposed the repeal, think that the only reason people leave their houses with their dogs in tow is to allow the dogs to relieve themselves. The notion that people walk with their dogs--on the street, in a park, or anywhere--for the simple joy of being outdoors in the company of their best friends, or that they, as a matter of course, take their dogs with them as they go about their daily routines, appears to be completely foreign to Garriga et al,, and the dog owners of Hudson must suffer from their constrained experience and imagination.

Alderman Stewart
It was disappointing when Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), chair of the Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee, asked if the 191 people who signed the petition lived in Hudson. How is that relevant? Are our parks open only to Hudson residents? Does the opinion of people who work in Hudson, own businesses in Hudson, frequently visit Hudson, or in some way have a stake in Hudson's future count for nothing? Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) estimated that 75 percent of the signatures on the petition were from Hudson residents, and Gossips' calculations confirm that Haddad was pretty much spot on. 

Needless to say, the effort to repeal the prohibition on dogs in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park failed. The (weighted) vote was 1,373 to 560. Those voting in favor of the repeal were Council president Don Moore and aldermen David Marston (First Ward), Nick Haddad (First Ward), and John Friedman (Third Ward). Those voting against it were, predictably, Garriga, Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Stewart, Delaney, Donahue, and, surprisingly, Henry Haddad (Third Ward).

Alderman Henry Haddad
The younger Haddad maintained that he was representing his constituents' wishes when he voted to continue the ban on dogs in riverfront park. By Gossips' calculations, however, more than 25 percent of the people who signed the petition to repeal the ban--about 50 of 204--live in the Third Ward, and one of them made this comment: "Dogs on leashes, tidied up after, are a wonderful addition to our lives and community. I am in Ward 3, Henry Haddad is my Alderman, and I ask him to please re-consider and make Hudson more welcoming to folks who wish to visit our city with their canine companions. Dogs allowed will enhance our city. Please repeal the prohibition on puppies. Thank you!" Clearly, that appeal fell on deaf ears, if it was ever actually read by Haddad.

Bad decisions are not without consequences. After the vote was taken, Mary Udell, who assists her husband in videotaping the Common Council meetings, called the Council's decision "absolutely insane." She left the room immediately, saying that the Udells were going to stop videotaping Common Council meetings. Dan Udell continued taping the meeting until it was adjourned, but he told Gossips that this was the end. He was disgusted by the majority opinion of the Council and would no longer volunteer his services to document their proceedings.


  1. There was the hope, now dashed over the antics about the dog park, that new blood on the Common Council would help overcome dinosaur logic which has prevailed so often in the past. All who voted against the dog park are extremely disappointing individuals.

  2. I've attended (too) many "take-your-breath-away" meetings in Hudson, but you're right, Carole, this one has to be on the top list of senseless rulings. Hudson: upstate's boondocks.

  3. Carole, thank your for your efforts on this issue. I had expected the Council to be guide by those who would respect the park, not those they anticipate will disrespect the area.

  4. I don't see why personal put downs are necessary, the issue of dog waste in the park seemed to me to be a legitimate concern. There are many people who walk their dogs and don't pick up after them. The park is already littered most of the summer with goose waste that isn't picked up, in such a small park adding dog waste to that is a bit much if you ask me. There are many responsible dog owners who clean up after their pets, but there are many who don't, the Cherry Alley behind lower Warren St for example, seems to be used by many as a dog litter box. A solution would be to develop the south end of the waterfront currently used for industrial materials transfer. Isn't this supposed to be a banned activity? Expanding the park would make room for dog walkers, hikers etc., it would solve the truck problem. The dog issue seems to be a bit of a distraction. How about a petition to get rid of the gravel and expand the park?

  5. Disappointing Individuals is the perfect response, and there is also Petty Fascists

  6. Funny, I don't remember Alderman Stewart being so concerned that prospective Planning Board members should live in Hudson. Because qualifying as a "resident" applies only to voting while anyone and their dog can live anywhere, her concern about the petition must be a concern about votes.

    I always assumed the Udells were videotaping in solidarity with public vigilance, but threatening to quit when the council does something seen to be objectionable suggests otherwise. When I've asked them for help double-checking the record, they were never available. I'm beginning to get a clearer picture.

    But for anyone to pretend there are never problems with dogs at the waterfront park would be a bit disingenuous. For example, the unwritten snow rule has been in effect for months: if there's snow on the ground you don't have to pick it up, period. Go down and take a look all along the sidewalk, which is what the opposing aldermen probably did. It's disgusting down there.

    My own reservations apply less to feces than to people's free interpretations of the city's leash law. Nevertheless, until Hudson can establish a dog park I still supported repeal.

  7. New York City advertises its parks as dog-friendly ( New York City promotes the entire city as dog friendly because they know people like to be out and about with their dogs.
    Other tourism sites promote the dog-friendly attitude of NYC: There are literally dozens of sites for those travelling with pets, encouraging them to visit.

    Hudson clearly would discourage visitors with pets.

    In fact, Hudson is DISCOURAGING all the time. I never read a report from the council without my heart sinking. It's clear that petitions and other forms of address to the city mean nothing.

  8. I don't get the logic here: it's okay for dogs to poop on sidewalks and streets, which have legions of pedestrians (and kids and religious dog-haters), but not okay to poop in a park? And why don't these anti-dog folks apply the same logic about keeping dogs out of parks -- i.e. that somebody will violate the law -- to streets? C'mon, you cleaner-than-thou council members: ban dogs from all public places! I dare you. ... Ignorance wrapped in an enigma = weird public policy....

  9. What's needed is a wharf that makes the shore usable for all. Know any Wharf rats expert in slipping from shore?

  10. In refernce to a little civil disobedience, perhaps we should wait for the first hot day in May to responsibly deposit our collective doggie wastes in the one of few garbage can outside of city hall. Oh yeah, maybe more garbage cans, HUD.

  11. A well worn wharf is designed at ebb and promotes "free and easy" access, for both two and four legged Navigators.
    Give fisherfolk a place to stand at low tide and you get a dog path off the grass that gets flushed twice a day.

  12. Can we please have an end to the doggy crowd wanting to bring their dogs EVERYWHERE? Just because it makes you feel goof to say "He's a rescue" or "pure bred this or that" does not mean you can take your dog everywhere you want.

    Even some of us dog owners like to walk where we do not have to worry about stepping in DOG $#!T surprise.

    My pure bred boxer is the love of the family but she DOES NOT go everywhere nor do we think she has the right to either.