Last night, at the informal meeting of the Common Council, the aldermen once again took up the discussion of repealing the prohibition on dogs in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.
As he has before, Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) shared the fear, which apparently is held by many of his constituents, that, if it is made legal for dogs to enter, "riverfront park will be a dog park." He was supported in this by Abdus Miah (Second Ward) and Henry Haddad (Third Ward), who expressed the opinion that "more people would abuse the privilege" and that it would be better to pursue a dog park. Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), also envisioning a park overrun with dogs, spoke of the danger dogs presented to children.
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) dismissed the fears of canine tyranny and chaos and predicted that, if the prohibition were lifted, "the same people are going to be walking their dogs [in riverfront park] as are walking them there today." Mary Udell, speaking from the audience, told the Council that she and her husband traveled a lot with their dog and shared the observation that "most of the nice cities and towns welcome dogs to their parks," making clear with signage the expectation that dogs in the park will be leashed and owners will pick up after their dogs and facilitating the latter by providing poop bags.
Council president Don Moore, who confessed to walking his dog in riverfront park and sees the park as a destination for his morning dog walk, suggested that the repeal be adopted with a sunset provision. If things didn't work out, the prohibition would be back in force after a designated period of time--one or two years.
It seems possible that the aldermen opposing the repeal are hearing only from the people who fear the worst. If you're not among those who think repealing the prohibition on dogs in riverfront park is an act of rash abandon that would unleash the hounds of hell to destroy the beauty and tranquility of the park, there is now an easy way to make your opinion known. An online petition has been created, entitled "Repeal the Prohibition." That petition can be accessed here. The signatures will be presented to the Common Council before they vote on the repeal on Tuesday, March 18.
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