Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in.

For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall on the proposed Kearny dog park targeted for Riverbank Park.

Council President Carol Jean Doyle, who has been leading the charge for the enterprise, encouraged those interested in the project to come out to hear how the park would be laid out and to offer any tweaks on some of the amenities associated with it.

“Neglia Engineering (the town’s consulting engineers) has incorporated all the suggestions we’ve received to this point into a ‘final’ plan,” Doyle said. “It’s a preview before we put a shovel in the ground.”

And, she added, it’s a sort of last chance for residents to add their two cents on anything the town may have missed that could be part of the mix – if it can be worked into the project budget.

Doyle credited Donald Gavin, Kearny superintendent of Parks & Recreation, and Mario Tridente, a Kearny resident who works for the Hudson County Planning Division, for their efforts in researching dog parks in the region.

“Don’s gone to see as many as 15 dog parks in New Jersey and New York and we got a lot of input from him on what he feels we need to properly maintain our facility,” Doyle said.

Kearny has been awarded a $175,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund and the town has tentatively allocated a $95,000 local match. “But the goal is to get the project funded at $175,000 or under so it can all be [paid for] by the grant,” said Town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

Ultimately, of course, that will depend on how the bids come in, he said.

The dog park is targeted to fit in a 200-foot-by100- foot section of Riverbank Park, along Passaic Ave., just north of the Butterfly Garden and south of Columbus Park.

As now designed, the park will contain two fencedin areas: one for smaller pooches weighing up to 35 pounds and the other for larger ones, Doyle said. In each of those areas, dogs would be allowed to run free.

Before the canines are led into those areas, their owners will be directed to lead them into what Doyle described as a “small cagedin area where you will then unleash your dog.”

This step, she said, is seen as a “safety” measure to allow the dog to get accustomed to this new environment and, if the animal begins to show aggressive behavior, the owner would be expected to take precautions before letting it loose with other dogs in either of the two larger fenced-in areas.

Since there will be no on-site staff to monitor the park on a daily basis, Doyle said the operation would be “self-policing.” In other words, the town would look to the dog owners to help keep order, she said.

This expectation, Doyle said, is extended to keeping the grounds as clean as possible. The town is expected to provide baggies as an aid to owners to pick up any poop left by their pooches, she said.

Neglia engineer Joseph Vuich, who last week was drafting the latest park design for Wednesday’s public meeting, said that plans call for a water line to be extended from the nearby Community Garden to the park as a source of drinking water for the dogs.

Vuich said that research is still being done on “the most appropriate surface” for the grounds where the dogs will roam, whether that’s gravel, sand or a mixture of both.

Other amenities that may be incorporated into the final design could include a “wash-down” station for the dogs, playthings for the dogs inside the fenced-in areas and benches inside and outside of those fenced-in areas, Vuich said.

Doyle said the park hours would probably mirror those of municipal parks. No lights will be installed, she said.

While some things may still be unsettled about the park’s look, one thing is certain, Doyle said. “There will be no fee to use it.”

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