Belmont Lake State Park in West Babylon now has a grass run for dogs large and small — a first for a Long Island state park.
"Belmont Lake is extremely popular for dog lovers and we wanted to create an area to be more user-friendly for our clientele," said George Gorman, Long Island regional director, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The dog run opened a couple of weeks ago without a formal announcement.
Fountains, for both people and dogs, will soon be installed, said park manager Joseph Brodtman. While artificial turf would have been far too costly, if the entrance gets muddy, concrete slabs may be laid down.
So far, just a handful of dog owners have been spotted using the new run.
Rules, some of which were crafted to avoid any tussles, are strict, and any misbehavior will not be tolerated.
"We're kind of seeing how things play out," Brodtman said.
The only toys allowed are tennis balls. Tobacco, food, drinks and glass containers all are prohibited.
Aggressive dogs, along with pronged or spiked collars, are also prohibited, and owners are responsible for any injuries their dogs cause.
If not in the run, dogs must remain on leashes no longer than six feet and be accompanied by someone at least 16 years old. Human companions must keep their dogs away from picnic areas, pick up after them and keep them from digging holes.
Puppies must be older than four months. Dogs older than six months must be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and wear ID collars.
In March, Long Island dog lovers launched a petition to persuade New York State to consider opening more sites for on-leash excursions — especially by the water, though not where anyone swims, and perhaps limited to off-hours or the offseason.
Said Gorman: "We are constantly evaluating our options and we will look at additional parks for enhancements."