Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is the Friendly City Becoming Dog Unfriendly?

In the past few weeks, two readers have asked about "No Dogs Allowed" signs in the Public Square, a.k.a. Seventh Street Park--one in a comment on this blog and another in an email. In the first case, I responded by suggesting that the sign he had seen was left over from a time, more than a decade ago, when the Common Council responded to a complaint about dog poop in Seventh Street Park by having "No Dogs Allowed" signs put up in every park in the city without passing a law to make the prohibition enforceable. When I got an email yesterday from someone who said he had witnessed DPW workers installing a sign, I decided to investigate. Lo and behold, this is what I found.

There is a sign warning "No Dogs Allowed" at every way into the park, including the point at which the railroad tracks enter the park from the north, presumably to warn vagabond dogs riding the boxcars that they must jump off before the train enters the park.

To find out why these signs have reappeared in the Public Square when the city code prohibits dogs only from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, Gossips contacted DPW superintendent Rob Perry who explained simply that the mayor had ordered their installation. So what's next? Is the mayor also going to order the Common Council to add Seventh Street Park to the Chapter 70-4. A (11) of the city code? While other cities are striving to market themselves as dog friendly to attract people who like to travel with their dogs, is Hudson, the alleged "Friendly City," becoming more unfriendly to dogs?


  1. C'mon, Bill. What's going on here?

  2. Why can't there be a fenced dog compound area for dog owners (a commodious one), and a dog free space in other places. Doesn't every interest and community of interest in Hudson deserve a piece of the pie as it were? If dog owners were into pooper scoopers, and got used to using them, then the "problem" would go away entirely. Anyway, any politician should know, that upsetting pet owners (and folks tend to be really, really attached to their pets, sometimes more than to other humans), is not the road to psephological prosperity as it were. Hopefully the mayor will sit down the canine cohort in Hudson and try to work something out.

  3. Some city properties are entirely owned by the Common Council, and thus administration for them is meant to come directly from the public by way of its legislature.

    The 7th Street park and the waterfront park are not among these properties, and thus the legitimacy of the new signs uptown must be an exercise of the ministerial authority of the mayor.

    Nowadays however, it makes little difference to anyone if the 7th Street park is owned by the Common Council, "the City," or some other entity.

    Because we no longer have any concept of government's proper role vis-a-vis the citizenry, or know from whence any of the various levels of government authority are derived, the 1960s idea of a "Peoples Park" is dead and gone in Hudson, and to the detriment of specific examples in our Charter and Code.

    Despite the fact that the proprietors of the City of Hudson specified in writing that certain public properties were forever to be owned by the Common Council - an 18th century decree which subsequently acquired the status of law - the lack of concern among residents for laws which protect their interests is just a local example of the way our entire culture is reverting to a "subject" status in relation to those meant to represent us.

    If the mayor was within his authority erecting new signs at the 7th Street park, considering our general ignorance about the way power is supposed to flow who'd know if the situation was otherwise?

    In August the mayor exceeded his authority in just such a Peoples park in Hudson, and with the full knowledge of our representatives on the Common Council.

    Looking no further than these two square miles, our codified rights are increasingly wasted on Hudson residents. (I'd go so far to say that we're Progressively sacrificing them, but that might be redundant.)

  4. This new initiative comes from a Mayor who thinks we should only spend tax money addressing "real" problems, and the only place where dog poop is a real problem is the alleys. Prison Alley can be gag inducing.

    Just curious, where will all those dog walkers go now that can't use the park? Let's see what the unintended consequences are. I, for one, intend to avoid the alleys.

  5. I am curious about what was done prior to the out and out ban objective. Was there any policing of the "pooper scooper" policy? Seems to me that it's a few bad apples that are spoiling it for everyone. I did have to laugh a little though at the positioning of the dog ban sign in 7th St Park - it is mere feet away from the "poop station" where bags are provided. Sounds like that one may be put to better use in one of the alleys.

    1. Here's a law from the City of Hudson code which is enforced in municipalities nationwide, but just not here:

      §70-4 (B) - "It shall be unlawful for any person to walk a dog on a leash or otherwise accompany a dog without a device suitable to cause the removal of the stools of such dog's defecation for sanitary disposal under this regulation."

      Seems to me we could avoid those problems caused by the few - not to mention collecting some extra revenue from those who couldn't care less where their dogs defecate - if the city only believed in its own laws.

      To your pooper scooper enforcement question, the unsurprising HPD reply is that you have to catch people and dogs in the act.

      So what does the Common Council do in its infinite wisdom? Instead of asking the HPD to enforce §70-4 (B), they make the penalty more onerous for when the HPD catches dog-owners in the act, which is almost never.

      The fact that it's easier to pass new laws than it is to enforce old ones shows us the level of thinking of this place.

  6. I am confused here. I thought the the main contention was about banning dogs from the Riverfront Park.I understand CSX not wanting dogs or people for that matter, walking down their R.R. tracks in the park, but until I saw Gossips photos above, I wasn't aware that dogs were banned from 7th St Park. The leash law, and pooper scooper law, pertains to all of Hudson,so why ban dogs? Thurston Park doesn't ban dogs.Not to differ with signifier's experience, but I use Prison Alley ,as a non driver, all the time as my foot thoroughfare, and I don't have a dog.I do not encounter excessive dog poop.I have however heard many complaints about that problem on lower Cherry Alley.Most people I encounter ,are taking their dog for some exercise,not just for the sole reason to poop.Of course that happens and there are laws about picking it up and disposing of it,responsibly.Hence the expense of the "poop stations" to help. Not all people act responsibly,but why would they be any more irresponsible in 7th St Park than say Warren St or the alleys? It's the LAW.,
    and there will always be people,until they are caught,that don't give a poop. But most people do,so why restrict everybody with a dog ,from taking a walk in the park?

  7. Is there a legal basis for the mayor's action? At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but this wasn't any kind of ministerial action. It's just making it up as you go along - business as usual in Hudson.

    Perhaps Mr. Hallenbeck is taking a page from the Obama playbook (who's easily taking a page from the Scalera playbook); to wit, an executive CAN make up his own laws and do whatever he wants as long as nobody is prepared to challenge him. (Putin operates from the same book.)

    The no dog signs at 7th Street are a power grab, along the lines of what the mayor ordered Mr. Perry to do at the Promenade park last summer. And even though that was outside the law there was nobody who cared, thus encouraging more of this behavior elsewhere.

    If it was worth its salt, the Common Council would oblige the mayor (any mayor) to control himself within the limits of the law, and to remove these signs unless and until the council authorizes its own anti-dog ordinance at the 7th Street park. It should have done the same thing concerning the action at the Promenade.

    The mayor and I are in agreement about one thing anyway: neither of us expects the sheeple or their representatives to challenge his discretionary anarchy!

    Maybe we do deserve this kind of treatment after all.

  8. What can we do to change things? There are some great thinkers on this blog and while not everyone may agree on every point, the discussions always seem productive and forward-thinking. So what can we do? How do we collect all these energies and channel them into action?

    One additional point on the dog ban - if history repeats itself will Hudson become a city full of "no" and "don't" signs with no enforcement? Who is going to enforce the dog bans if the pooper scooper laws have never been enforced? Should we expect to see "No ignoring the signs" signs to be erected next?

  9. You must be new here Lisa. There's really nothing that can be done to change things in Hudson short of people banding together to defend their common interests. If that was possible 10 years ago, today it's hopeless. If effecting political change is the object (rather than comparing notes on eating), it's every man for himself in Hudson. Unfortunately this is typical wherever you find artists, even in Europe, which is what makes Hudson less a community than a herd of loners. If you stick your head up a little, don't be shocked to find you're on your own, while our City Hall which is rampant with abuses will despise you for it.

    I agree that towns like this end up with lots of "no this" and "no that" signs, but that's Hudson. Out of concern for your well-being, it's probably best to keep your head down or go find a new place. Depressing, but also accurate.