A study was commissioned and the public was invited to hear whether a dog park might be feasible in Scarsdale. Several sites are under consideration in response to the Scarsdale Neighborhood Association suggesting there would be public support for a dog park.
Listening to residents’ objections at the recreation committee hearing on the dog park proposal, one might have come away thinking the intent was to build a wild animal preserve. Traffic, noise, parking, ticks, mosquitoes, disease, waste – a litany of plagues was cited.
Given the quantity of negative comments expressed at the meeting, it seems doubtful a dog park would find a home in Scarsdale. Some people said they liked the idea, but they would not want the facility in their neighborhood or near their home.
Hopefully the board of trustees will come up with a solution to settle the nerves of those declaring “not in my backyard.” They should not let this go the way of other amenities once considered for the village but shelved without finding a way to compromise.
Remember the indoor pool? Remember the new school for Greenacres? How about lights for night games at the high school field?
The library renovation faced some opposition as well, but finally the $20 million remodeling project moved ahead, thanks to the determination and creativity of the planning committee that took pains to respond to all residents’ views about the project, work out compromises and come up with a blend of public/private financing.
As the Recreation Committee and the Board of Trustees review potential locations, the public would do well to consider the benefits of having a well-constructed, well-managed dog park in Scarsdale. If you’re a dog lover and you think a dog park has a value for you, speak up and add a positive voice to the discussion.
Dog parks allow pets to run free and enjoy open space. Pets can expend energy and get exercise, making for a more relaxed dog when you return home. But dog parks aren’t just for dogs. They’re also for people who love canines. They’re a natural place to meet neighbors and talk with each other. A quick search for dog parks in Manhattan turned up 40 off-leash plots of various sizes. Some are funded publicly and some privately.
To have a Scarsdale dog park work economically, the village could charge an annual permit fee to use the park, and require proof of a license, vaccinations and parasite control to qualify for the permit. In New Rochelle, a Ward Acres dog permit costs $50 per dog for residents and $100 per dog owned by a nonresident. Scarsdale could opt to restrict the park access for residents only and issue tickets – say $250 – if someone is there without a resident pass.
To make the dog park civilized and safe, the village could prohibit children under 7, aggressive dogs or dogs in heat from using the park. Rules posted at the park could require dog owners to be attentive to their dog and remove their dog’s waste. Residents who talk about their time spent at dog parks in nearby locations say they have had only good experiences, and rarely, if ever, are the spaces crowded or noisy.
In the preliminary study of the Weinberg Nature Center as a potential location for the dog park, the village consultant, JMC Site Planning, recommended 40 parking spaces. But that seems like overkill — several dog park users told us they couldn’t imagine that many people with dogs ever using a park in this area at the same time. They also said those who frequent a dog run typically stay for about half an hour, more or less, so turnover would likely keep the parking demand manageable.
And traffic? Surely traffic at a dog park would not be worse than the traffic and parking near houses of worship.
Granted, land in Scarsdale is filled with homes, schools and streets, with little room left for new land use. But lifestyles change and people’s expectations evolve. If residents persistently argue over where and how new amenities can be created, they may never get anything new here. It’s up to village officials to lead residents to think positively and find a way to make improvements and enhance Scarsdale.