Two weeks ago, Battery Park City resident Adam Pratt was attacked by a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer when walking his dog on South End Avenue, reports Downtown Express. The patrolwoman approached him on a golf cart and requested ID. He didn’t have it on him and she then struck him in the face not one, not two, but three times with her walkie talkie. A bystander corroborated the account.
The Parks Department, which oversees the PEP, issued the following statement about the incident: â€œOn Saturday, January 29, a man in Battery Park City was issued a summons for disorderly conduct and brought to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation after behaving irrationally and striking a female Parks Enforcement Officer. Conflicting reports state that the Parks Enforcement Officer initiated the confrontation. We will therefore take further steps to look into this.â€
Clearly, Pratt and the PEP have differing accounts of what happened. Pratt, who has photographed PEP officers dozing off in the vehicles and thinks this incident was their way of getting back at him for causing trouble, was eventually handcuffed and placed in an ambulance and taken to a psych ward at Bellevue. He was eventually charged with ‘disorderly behavior,’ which was the only charge they could place on him. A later X-ray revealed rib contusions for Pratt. He plans to sue.
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?