Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro will probably be in the dog house with Lower Manhattan pet owners, as he has announced that the city will not allow dogs to run free and off-leash on the lawn in Battery Park. The reason for putting the kibosh on canines? The dogs and their waste could prevent other users from enjoying the spacious, open grass area, which is set for renovation next summer. Â The lawn at Battery Park was previously the only large and open space downtown where dogs were allowed to run off their leashes.
Despite banning dogs from the park’s grass, Castro did say that a temporary dog run will be created on one of the park’s asphalt paths. The city will provide movable barriers and mark off over 6,000 square feet of pavement where dogs would be permitted to run and play from 6 to 9 AM daily. The Downtown Dog Owners Association is attempting to fight this decision, garnering 800 signatures along with their request to use the park lawn to exercise their pups. The DDOA says dogs are also part of the local community, and that the asphalt is brutal on paws while natural grace is the perfect surface for running. Some residents also expressed confusion as to why the Parks Department allows dogs to run off-leash in other parks but not Battery Park; size was cited as the issue.
Castro, however, will continue to meet with the DDOA about this issue. The next meeting is slated for December 13.
Do you think this Battery Park ruling is unfair to dogs and dog owners?
The cold weather is rolling in, but don’t expect your dog to work up a sweat running free in Battery Park. Off-leash dogs can still net you a hefty fine.
Last friday Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro denied a request for an off-leash trial in Battery Park. According to reports from DNAinfo, Castro said “more discussions were needed,” which will no doubt Â take place in December when the parties are scheduled to meet again. The Tribeca Trib has also reported that the installation of a dog run was offered as aÂ compromise to the off-leashÂ dilemma.
In was July when we reported that parks officals began handing out tickets for off-leash dogs, enforcing a law that had otherwise been forgotten (or ignored). Local dog owners wereÂ expectedlyÂ upset at this sudden enforcement; the fine for an off-leash dog can be $100. Since this summer, dog owners have banded together, collecting over 800 signatures in support of an off-leash area for pets to run free.
Do you think a dog run is an acceptableÂ compromise?
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but dog owners are not best friends with the Parks Department these days.
The Parks Department have been stepping up their efforts to enforce leash laws, prohibiting unleashed dogs to run in public areas during all hours — in stark contrast with laws which had previously allowed unleashing during certain hours and were relatively unenforced.
Dog owners are up in arms with the unclear rules and have called the new enforcements “confusing.” According to a report in the Downtown Express, “The Parks Department said there is no confusion about the law which was codified back in 2007, shortly after the city’s then Board of Health voted in favor of the informal ‘courtesy hours’ policy, which allowed dogs off leashes in designated areas of City parks between 9PM and 9AM.”
Battery Park is not included as one of the places that allows for leash-free dogs.
Violations of this rule are costly: non-compliant dog owners can be forced to pay $100 fines for unleashed dogs.
However, according to Jeff Galloway, longtime founder of the Battery Park City Dog Association, enforcement of the rule has been arbitrary. In an email sent to Battery Park City residents, Galloway states, “Off-leash privileges in Battery Park have resulted in no damage to the Park and, to the contrary, have greatly enhanced the quality of life for local residents, by providing a much-needed recreation area for local pets and by making the Park safer for all residents during the hours in which off-leash use had been permitted. The Financial District is fast-becoming a vibrant residential area; if Battery Park becomes off-limits, Financial District residents will have no place in their own neighborhood to take their dogs. Many BPC residents would love to have an off-leash area as well, and Battery Park is conveniently located for BPC residents.”
Community Board 1 is in recess for August, but have invited the Parks Department to discuss the issue when the board reconvenes in September. For those interested in supporting the Downtown Dog Owners initiatives to keep unleashed hours in Battery Park, sign the petition online.
How do you feel about dog owners unleashing pets in Battery Park during designated hours?