SWEGO, NY – The Crisafulli baseball diamond area of Breitbeck Park is going to the dogs.
At its meeting Monday night, the Physical Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation to transforming the currently idle baseball field into a park for canines.
Councilor Connie Cosemento requested discussion regarding the proposal due to what she called public demand.
“The folks involved with T-ball have relocated the teams to the fort so that this particular diamond is not being used at this point,” she explained.
Dog parks are place dogs and their owners can play together; it offers off-lease time for the dogs.
“Research shows that dogs that get to run freely are less aggressive and owners become more informed dealing with other dog owners,” Cosemento said. “According to the city attorney, there shouldn’t be any more liability in this particular area, with dogs sharing space with people, then there would be in any park where there are dogs on leash.”
One of the reasons she picked this area is because dog parks have to be fenced and the ball field is already pretty much enclosed and you need at least an acre (1 to 5 is usual).
The city would need to install at least two gates at the park and there is one small part of the fencing that needs to be repaired, the councilor noted.
There also needs to be a waste can for refuse.
“I would like to suggest a trial period of one year so that people who use the park understand their responsibilities are just that – responsibilities.” she said.
Formation of the park will be contingent on forming an advocacy group first, she added.
The group would help with signs, fundraising and do some monitoring of the park.
“It’s not the goal to have our DPW pick up dog doo,” she said.
“We’ve talked about this over the past few years. But there never was a spot available,” Councilor Dan Donovan said. “I think this is a pretty good find. I have had a lot of calls in favor of a dog park.”
Council vice president Shawn Walker wanted to know who would police the park and what happens if people violate the rules of the park.
Cosemento indicated that most of the burden would rest with the dogs’ owners.
“Most people who use dog parks, do look after their dogs,” she replied. “The advocacy group wouldn’t be there every day. But, they would be there to check.”
And, if need be, the animal control officer could be contact to remove a dog and its owner for any infractions.
It wouldn’t be a huge feat to get gates at the park, according to DPW Commissioner Mike Smith. It would be about 2 to 4 weeks to get them and install them, he added.
Council president Ron Kaplewicz said he has also received some calls in support of a dog park in the Port City.
Many cities around the state have parks very similar to what Cosemento is proposing, he pointed out.
There are some issues the city needs to address about the park’s management, he said, adding “there are always issues when you go into something new.”
“We should give it a shot for a year. It’s not a high-expense item,” he said.
Councilor Mike Myers asked if this would strictly be for dogs only.
It would be open everyone, Cosemento said, adding a caution regarding younger children.
“You really shouldn’t have young children in with dogs,” she said.
Rules would be posted at the park. They include:
Keep your dog on a lease when entering and leaving the park (close the gate) and always keep your lease with you
Your dog must have a valid license and current vaccinations
Your dog must not be in heat, sick, have parasites or be younger than four months old
You must remain in the park with your dog
Dogs must be under voice control at all times (come when called)
If your dog becomes aggressive, unruly or plays rough, you must lease your dog and leave immediately
Always clean up after your dog and put waste in the containers provided
Fill any holes your dog may dig
Supervise children; young children are very susceptible to dog bites and it is recommended that children under 10 do not enter
No more than two dogs per handler at a time are allowed
Food and smoking aren’t allowed in the dog park.