New “No dogs” signs in Prospect Park have unleashed a fury from dog owners who say park officials are arbitrarily enforcing regulations and unfairly targeting their four-legged friends.
The bright blue signs showed up on paths leading to the Long Meadow a few weeks ago, and remind dog walkers that their pets are not allowed on the grass — even on a leash — except during the designated off-leash hours.
The signs threaten a $100 fine.
Park Sloper Seth Kamil spoke for many of his fellow dog owners when he suggested that the signs wrongly target canine aficionados while ignoring a bigger problem than the few dog lovers who actually walk their pets across the Long Meadow.
“The signs are fine, but what angers me is the inconsistent enforcement of the rules and policies,” said Kamil, who owns the Big Onion Walking Tour company. “[Park cops] strictly enforce dog rules, but they turn a blind eye to everything else that takes place in the park.”
“Everything else” includes illegal barbecuing, and high school sports teams and adult leagues whose cleats tear up the grass.
“There is a perception out there that dogs ruin the park. Well, 20 grown men wearing cleats on a muddy Sunday do more damage than any dog ever could,” Kamil said. “Dogs are just an easy target, because, well, nobody likes to get dog poop on his shoe.”
But not every dog owner is in Kamil’s kennel. Community Board 6 Parks Committee chairwoman — and dog owner — Nica Lalli said the new signs “make sense,” given all the complaints she’s received about randomly enforced dog rules in the park.
“The signs let people know that dogs are simply not allowed on the fields,” she said. “It was a shame that the rule was previously unclear, but now that it is a clear rule, we need to follow it. This is a big, multi-use park, with millions of people who come to it. We all need to do our part to keep it fun for everyone.”
Until now, a “grace period” was in effect, said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance. But the installation of the “No dogs” signs signals that tickets will be issued.
“The ticketing is just a natural progression, because now people are expected to know what is and is not allowed,” he said.
UPDATED: This story wrongly suggested that the newly installed “No dogs” signs barred leashed canines from the Long Meadow. In fact, the restrictions only apply to paths around the ballfields at the southern end of the meadow. Leashed dogs are still allowed on the grass at all hours and are allowed off-leash during specified hours. The Brooklyn Paper regrets the error.
©2008 Community News Group
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