By Ron Leir
The proposed dog park for Kearny is a step closer now that Town Council has voted to authorize applying for $231,742 in state Green Acres funding to develop the facility on less than an acre of Riverbank Park.
Council members acted last week after hearing only supportive comments from several members of the public invited to speak on the topic Feb. 5,, including one who brought a petition containing 400 names of residents favoring it.
Altogether, the town has received petitions bearing the names of some 800 dog park proponents.
“I’m very excited,” said Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who has helped lead the charge for the facility.
Doyle said that some recommendations from the public would likely be incorporated into the plans, such as “staggered gates,” one opening to a “holding area” as a “safety factor,” and a second leading to the park itself.
Also, Doyle said, prompted by the recent fatal dog attack at the Windsor St. Playground, the town would arrange for the park’s perimeter fencing “to go down deep enough so that a dog can’t dig its way underneath” and get outside the park’s confines.
Doyle said the town would also deal with these issues related to the proposed dog park:
• Providing “a good water flushing system” to clean the park regularly after use. This will be done “at the insistence of Mayor Alberto Santos,” she said.
• Arranging for someone from the Department of Public Works to closely monitor the park until closing at dusk. Owners of dogs acting aggressively or inappropriately would be asked to remove those animals, Doyle said.
• Directing owners with cars to park in the lot just south of Skinner’s Automotive on Passaic Ave.
As outlined in the Green Acres application, prepared by Town Engineer Michael Neglia, the state funding would “support a facility for dogs to exercise and play off-leash in a controlled environment and under the supervision of owners.”
State cash would be used for site clearance and grading, stone and gravel, soil stabilization and sediment control devices, installation of a perimeter fence four to six feet high, double-gated entry and exit points, two dog wash stations, pooper scoopers, six pet waste disposal containers and poop bag dispensers, two covered trash receptacles, along with nine benches, shade areas and two drinking fountains for dog owners.
Kearny would provide $31,127 in local matching funds for architectural designs and inspections.
The town estimates that it would cost $4,600 a year to operate and maintain the park.
If Green Acres approves the application, then, officials figure, Kearny could advertise for construction bids in April 2014, award a contract by June 2014, start work by July 2014 and finish the park by October 2014, according to the application.
Asked what the town would do if its application is rejected, Doyle said that Kearny couldn’t afford to go it alone but would continue to doggedly pursue state funding.
“That means we’d have to wait again to the next [Green Acres funding] cycle and reapply,” Doyle said. “I’ll be disappointed [if the town doesn’t get funded] but I won’t be discouraged. It just makes you fight harder for what you believe in.”
In the aftermath of the Windsor St. Playground incident previously referenced by Doyle, police reported that, on Jan. 13, a pit bull owned by Stephen Farber ran from the owner’s enclosed backyard and somehow managed to get into the playground and fatally mangle a smaller Lhaso Opso owned by neighbor Consuelo Medina on Jan. 13.
Farber was given a summons and the case was heard Jan. 31 by Municipal Court Judge Norman Doyle Jr. who ruled that Farber’s dog should be euthanized and Farber, who told the court he regretted what happened, complied on Feb. 1, according to Town Health Officer John Sarnas.
In a separate dog attack case, stemming from a Sept. 13, 2011, incident in which, police said, a pit bull owned by Michael Rondon got away from its owner and killed a smaller dog owned by Martin Damyanovich on Maple St.
Rondon was charged with harboring a potentially dangerous dog and last Thursday, Judge Doyle agreed and, as prescribed by state law, directed the owner to have the dog tattooed on the inside of its mouth, to place a red tag on its collar, to secure the dog in a specially fenced-in yard and roof-enclosed cage, and to secure $200,000 liability insurance for the dog, Sarnas reported. Rondon has 20 days to appeal.
At last week’s meeting, the council voted to endorse a state bill (S-2378) that would permit municipalities to seize and impound “any dog that attacks and seriously injures or kills another domestic animal.”