Oyster Bay's first town-run dog park opens

Jeff Gillis of Locust Valley, prepares to throw Jeff Gillis of Locust Valley, prepares to throw a ball to his dog Daisy. (June 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Shade under a canopy of trees. Cool, refreshing water to drink. Plenty of room to run around and stretch their legs.

Oyster Bay Town's newest park seemed Sunday to be a success with its target demographic: the dogs.

Sophie, a Tibetan terrier, of Farmingdale, paced and wagged her tail excitedly. Pirate, a beagle mix, of Massapequa, rubbed muzzles with other dogs. Butch, a bulldog, of Massapequa, lapped water from a fountain, then slumped contentedly beside it.

"Obviously, there is a need to fulfill if this many people turned out," said Glenn Clark, 40, of Massapequa, with his sons, Lincoln, 11, and Aiden, 9, and their Brittany spaniel, Barkley. "It's a great use of space."

Oyster Bay's first town-run dog park, in Massapequa on what was 5.2 wooded acres, marked its grand opening with dozens of people and their four-legged companions off their leashes and ready to play. The play area for dogs measures one fenced acre, with two-thirds of it for bigger pooches and the other third reserved for smaller ones and a divider in between. The entrance is on Clocks Boulevard.

Dogs chased tennis balls, stalked butterflies and met their canine neighbors. "I'm a big advocate of dog parks, anywhere they can socialize," said Suely Vera, 46, of Selden, with havanese Zoca Bear and golden retrievers Xuxu Bear and Ty Bear.

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Butch the bulldog seemed more focused on socializing with those on two legs. "He likes meeting people more than dogs," Joe Fitzpatrick, 44, of Massapequa, said. "He'll do anything for a back scratch."

Anton Centrella, 33, of Massapequa, owner of Pirate, so named because he has only eye, said he liked that the play area was covered in wood chips rather than sand.

Town Supervisor John Venditto was also at the event, with his miniature dachshund, Brando.

"Ever since I became supervisor, I said this town is going to the dogs," he joked. "Today it's doing so, and rightfully so."

Peggy Heijmen, of the nonprofit LI-DOG, which lobbied for the park, said she hopes it will lead to other parks more centrally located in the town.

"Let this be a prototype for future parks," she said.

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