For years, dog owners in Glen Cove had taken their pets to Garvies Point for off-leash runs. It wasn’t an official dog park, and city law doesn’t allow dogs off-leash, but police looked the other way.
Then last month, the city closed off the open space area along Hempstead Harbor to make way for construction of a housing, recreational and commercial development.
“I was really upset because she loves it there,” said Ava Skelly, referring to her German shepherd-black Labrador mix, Halo. “She’d run around for hours. When they closed it, people didn’t know what to do.”
But last Friday, Halo was frolicking with her buddy Max, a Rottweiler she knows from Garvies Point, at the city’s first official dog run area, within Dennis Brian Murray Park. City workers had finished installing black fencing for the dog park hours earlier.
The park came about after dog owners asked Mayor Reginald Spinello for an alternative to Garvies Point.
“It’s great, because it was an underutilized park, and it’s going to become very utilized now,” Spinello said.
On Friday afternoon, more than a dozen dogs and their human companions were socializing in the two dog enclosures.
Max’s owner, Frank DeLaRosa, said his dog had become more hyperactive at home because he wasn’t getting as much exercise as he had gotten running around Garvies Point twice a day.
“He missed his friend a lot,” DeLaRosa said, gesturing toward Halo and Max as they wrestled in the grass.
Until Thursday, dogs were banned from all city parks. The City Council on Oct. 13 voted to allow them at Murray and at Big Ralph Park, although for several weeks before, the city allowed people to bring their dogs to the parks if the animals were leashed. Big Ralph will require that dogs be leashed.
The next step, which Spinello said would be taken at the Oct. 25 council meeting, is to enact a law allowing dogs to run off-leash in the fenced-in area at Murray, and to create rules for the dog park. Until then, the dog park is not officially open, but Spinello said police would not ticket residents who use it.
The city plans to run water pipes to the park to create a spigot for drinking water for the dogs, Spinello said. Dog owners are starting to raise money for play equipment such as a ramp and tunnel, and for benches for owners, said dog owner Maribeth Graf, who helped lead the effort for a dog park.
Jessica Sinacore is overjoyed at having a dog park a block from her home. Sam, her golden retriever, barked and wagged his tail as dogs arrived at the pen on Friday.
“He’s so excited to be here,” Sinacore said. “He loves to socialize with other dogs and meet and greet.”