Dogs in Ulster County and the humans who love them got a double dose of good news on Thursday, July 10. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein spoke at the Field of Dreams on Libertyville Road in New Paltz to announce that the county would fund a fence for the long-planned county dog park at the site. In addition, the county will implement new anti-tethering legislation designed to ensure humane treatment of domestic animals.
The anti-tethering law places limits on the length of time and the manner in which an animal may be tied up outside. “This law is a tremendous step forward for animal rights and signals that Ulster County is a true ‘pet safe’ county,” said Hein. “This law is not about inhibiting responsible pet owners; it is about providing law enforcement the necessary tools to address animal abuse and neglect. Simply put, the goal of this legislation is to promote responsible pet ownership.” Hein credited legislators Ken Wishnick and Hector Rodriguez for sponsoring the new law.
The county funding for the fence at the dog park eliminates what has been the final stumbling block to its completion, said Christine DeBoer, board member of the nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization For Paws of Ulster, Inc. The grassroots group has been raising funds to establish a county dog park in New Paltz since May of 2010, but while the two-acre parcel of land opposite the Ulster County Fairgrounds was designated for the park at a Town Board meeting in 2012, completion of the project has been held up by efforts to fund the five-foot-tall chain link fencing for it that comes at an estimated cost of $25,000.
Now that the funding is secured, DeBoer said, installation of the fence is expected to begin immediately after consultation with fencing contractors in Louisville, KY and the park to open by the end of summer. It will be a county dog park on county land leased to the Town of New Paltz. “We [For Paws of Ulster] have a contract with both the county and the town that allows us to use the land for the park,” said DeBoer, “but we’ll continue to raise money to pay for insurance and the doggie waste receptacles and other amenities. We’re working closely with the town, and they’re helping us with trash pickup and maintenance (mowing), but there shouldn’t be any other long-term costs to them.”
Liability insurance is estimated at $1,300 annually and “Dogipots” at $1,000 each. Signage to direct visitors to the location and to post general park rules will cost $2,500. Possible extras would involve funding benches at $400-$600 each and shade structures at $1,500. “We’ll hold our third annual fundraising 5K run on Oct. 12 and a yard sale in August,” said DeBoer. “We’ll continue to fundraise so we have funds to replace anything that breaks or add on to whatever is needed so that this isn’t a burden to the town but just a wonderful benefit.”
The park will be free of charge to use and open to all. Like most dog parks, it will have two enclosed areas, one for large dogs and another for small ones. Each area will have double gates so that a dog owner steps inside an enclosed area, shuts the gate behind them, unleashes their dog and then enters the park through a second gate with their dog off the leash.
The park’s location is behind the large dirt parking area across from the fairgrounds at the back of the property in the far corner of the Field of Dreams ball fields, near a large boulder at the forest line.
The land was wooded before being cleared by volunteers. “It was second growth forest,” said DeBoer. “The farther corner is very wet, so we left that wooded. It’s about an acre and three-quarters that’s cleared, but that’s more than enough for us. We did leave a few trees for natural shade, and last year we put some grass seed in, so it looks really nice now.”
The members of For Paws of Ulster have been going to the site on weekends for some time now to clear brush and cut trees down, said DeBoer, but the process of getting the park underway has been so extended that they would go back out to find that their efforts had been undone as nature took over again. A lot of businesses volunteered to help clear the land, said DeBoer, including Limber Tree Services of West Hurley. “They donated their time and equipment and came out with wood chippers that really helped us get this done a lot quicker.”
The county dog park will serve the 5,000 dogs licensed in Ulster County that currently have no legal off-leash site to run free and socialize with one another. Dog parks have also been cited as a positive social outlet for dog owners.
“It’s huge for the county to fund the fencing,” said DeBoer, who is also executive director of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust. “And it goes hand-in-hand with the anti-tethering law, having a place that’s safe and wonderful to exercise dogs while also giving police a way to go after dog owners who are not properly taking care of their dogs.”
“The Ulster County Dog Park is a wonderful partnership between the town, the county and the community,” said New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet. “The volunteers behind For Paws of Ulster County never lost their passion for creating this dog park. Between their hard work, the contributions of the Town of New Paltz and now, with the help of County Executive Hein, the dog park will finally be a reality. We will have many happy dogs romping around before summers end. The dog park is a great amenity, not only for New Paltz, but for all of Ulster County.”
For more information, visit www.ForPawsPark.com.