Dogs and dog-owners in New Paltz have good news to share with each other and their pooches. At last Thursday night’s New Paltz Town Board meeting, the board approved unanimously to allow two acres at the Field of Dreams (located off Libertyville Road across from the Ulster County Fairgrounds) to be used as a dog park.
A group formed several years ago to try to find a location within Ulster County for a dog park, and met with then-county legislator Susan Zimet (D-New Paltz), now the town supervisor, to ask for her help. “I had them meet with Buildings and Grounds and look at various sites, and it all seemed to be moving well — until they hit some roadblocks at a higher level,” said Zimet. “In the meantime, I told them, and the former Town Board told them, to get not-for-profit status, which they did; to look at various sites, which they did,” like Moriello Pool and Park and Clearwater Field. “But both of those sites had issues that could not be overcome. The best place was the Field of Dreams.”
To that end, For Paws of Ulster, the local not-for-profit group who has been working to establish a dog park in the Town of New Paltz, presented its hopes to the Town Board last Thursday. Former councilwoman Marion Dubois, a major dog enthusiast and animal activist, was there, along with other members of For Paws, including president Danielle Cardella and secretary Christine DeBoer.
DeBoer explained that she and For Paws members have been working for “two years,” toward this end, much of which was fraught with “struggle in obtaining permission to use a piece of land for the much-needed dog park. Over the past two years, we have been fighting for land, all the while trying to maintain support for what the dream was: a dog park in Ulster County. As of tonight, that has all changed!” she said happily, thanking the Town Board, particularly Supervisor Zimet for “working with us from the very beginning and bringing our request to the Town Board.”
According to Zimet, For Paws has already done “a lot of fundraising, but now that they have a site, they can do more serious fundraising that they need to put up a five-foot fence around the periphery of the area. They want benches, a separation for small dogs and big dogs as well as the appropriate waste receptacles and water for the dogs.” At the suggestion of councilwoman Kitty Brown, the town agreed to give For Paws $500 toward the park from the Parkland and Recreation fund.
Zimet said, “Like any recreation group, we’re providing them use of our land; but they will do the fundraising for their park and they will also be responsible for maintaining it. Dog parks are popping up all over the place, and they rarely cause any problems. Dog-owners that take the time to load their animals into a car and drive to a fenced-in dog park are typically very conscientious people.”
Zimet said that she didn’t see a downside to the park. “Dogs are very social animals; they like and need to play and run around with other dogs. If you live in the village or in many parts of the town, there is really no place to let your dog off a leash — and dogs need to run! At the same time, you have dog-owners who can hang out and socialize, making for happy people and happy doggies.”
If it ever became an issue, Zimet said, “We would revisit it and address any problems that arose, just like we would at Moriello Park, or if people were getting hit over the heads with baseball bats at Clearwater. But I think it’s going to be a great addition to our community.” ++