Only a few decades ago, the idea of a play park for dogs would have seemed bizarre. Except in the most urban areas, the world was a huge pup playground. Only in the large cities were leash laws enforced. Times and liability laws changed, and now even small villages require canine citizens to be leashed when off the owners’ properties. Dogs residing in homes with a fenced-in yard are lucky to be able to play at liberty, but for most dogs, a leash-free romp has become an impossible dream.
The concept of leash-free dog parks probably began in New York City several decades ago, and spread rapidly. In Kingston, for awhile there were several parks that had “no dogs” rules, but where dogs were allowed to romp as long as they did not disturb any other park users. Unfortunately, there were the inevitable conflicts, and dog owners are now being ticketed by the dog warden for allowing their dogs to romp off leash in human oriented parks.
About two years ago, several concerned dog owners began contacting the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department, wanting a leash-free dog park in Kingston. Similar parks had been begun in Saugerties and Marbletown. Marcuse Pfieffer and Evi Seidman attended a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting urging a creation of a Kingston dog park. Their rescued pup needed an opportunity to do strenuous romping in order to regulate her pent-up energies. Kingston recreation Commissioner Kevin Gilfeather and commission member Joe Hoffman found value in the suggestion, and a study was begun of the operation of dog parks existing in other communities. Dr. Marilyn Glasser presented the results of the study at a very well-attended meeting at Kingston Point Beach about a year ago. The Recreation Commission studied the various options presented, as well as possible sites for the proposed park. Eventually a one acre site was chosen between the historic Kingston Point Park and the baseball field. Then a funding stream was established so that tax-deductable donations could be made, with a $100,000 goal set to pay for the construction of the park and for upkeep costs in the future.
Evi Seidman noted that some rural parks have been established with a small budget, but that those founding the Kingston Point Dog Park feel a strong obligation to continue the grand historic integrity of Kingston Point Park, which was designed in the 19th Century by Calvert Vaux who designed Central Park. They want the park to be safe, beautiful, and aesthetically attractive for the humans….and the dogs! A great deal of thought has gone into the planning of the park itself.
It will be enclosed by black vinyl coated chain link fence, that blends attractively into the surroundings. There will be two areas, one for large, vigorous dogs, and the other for small, elderly, or disabled dogs who prefer quieter play. Serving both entrances will be “hardscape” area with a three-tier water fountain. The lowest tier of the fountain will be for the dogs, a middle area will be for seated persons and children, and the top area for people on foot. The fountain will be set in the brick , to control any possibility of mud tracking. Each brick in the hardscape will be lasar- engraved with messages chosen by contributors to the dog park.
A 4 x 8 inch brick with three lines of engraved copy, will be available for a $100 donation . An 8×8 inch brick will be available for $250 with room for a six line personalization , and the $5 pawprint option will also be available for the large bricks. In addition, those wishing a lasting memorialization for a departed relative or pet can purchase a plaque on the drinking fountain or on one of the comfortable seating benches in the park.
Funding is through the Community Foundation of Ulster County, and donation checks should be made out to the Community Foundation of Ulster County, with “Kingston Point Dog Park” or “KPDP” in the memo line of the check. All donations are tax deductable.
The play areas of the park will be paw-friendly grass. The city will be responsible for the mowing, and the Kingston Point Dog Park will be responsible for the upkeep and repairs. Owners will be responsible for the conduct of their pets. After studying operation of many dog parks, Kingston decided not to require memberships or fees, but there will be rules, and the first 100 users of the park will have to attend a short 90-minute orientation in dog park ettiquette. There will be no “doggy playground” equipment, and in the interest of safety, food and toys will not be allowed in the park. Only dogs who play well with other dogs will be allowed, but there will be no breed discrimination.
During the frosty months corporate contributions will be solicited and local businesses will be given an opportunity to have their sponsorship acknowledged on benches, fences, fountains, etc. It is planned that ground for the park will be broken as soon in spring as possible with a goal of having the park fully operational for the frolicsome days of early summer! Dogs will finally have the opportunity to let their humans off the end of the leash for a little untethered romping!