Great Neck dog park public hearing sees calls for unity

Great Neck dog park public hearing sees calls for unity
Allenwood Park. The Great Neck Park District hosted a second open forum on a dog park pilot program on July 14. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The Great Neck Park District meeting on Thursday night was mostly identical to the first one two weeks earlier.

Currently, Great Neck only has one dog park on Colonial Road. They would create two extra ones as part of the pilot initiative, which has been in the works since July 2021, in Allenwood Park and Village Green.

The latest public hearing was more civil than the previous one on June 30. The last meeting had 100 attendees create a nearly three-hour battle that featured verbal altercations, threats of legal action and the ejection of people.

Yet, the greatest difference was the noticeable amount of calls for compromise. In the wake of continuous online arguments, many expressed frustration with the situation.

“I want to hear other people in the community coming up with creative solutions instead of just being angry and saying no. The world changes all the time and we have to change and work together and be a community and respect each other and I do not see that happening,” said resident Andrea Katz. “And personally, that saddens me very much because Great Neck used to not be like this. But it is now and I think this is a good opportunity for us to do something about it.”

Individuals who didn’t speak on June 30 could do so first. After, those who spoke last time could address the audience once more.

Many comments referenced or expanded on the topics addressed last time. But most responses reflected personal experiences or already-expressed ideas.

People opposed to the pilot program said the issue wasn’t about dogs. Instead, their problems stemmed from its proximity.

“If you do a Google Map Search on dog parks, you will find that none of the dog parks are this close to residential homes,” said Yunpeng Sun. “Which is also why you should not believe the false claim that this dog park will improve home value. Homes that are this close to dog parks were not in this study because they don’t exist.”

Leslie Hirschhorn, a resident, said those complaining should understand what living near a park entails.

“I bought my house knowing that I would have noise from trains and now they’re increasing the trains so we’re gonna have more,” she said. “I’m not going to call the Long Island Railroad and complain because I bought a house on the train tracks. I have to take what brings with it.”

There is no proven connection between dog parks and home values. However, neighborhood amenities often lead to higher assessments.

Some spectators jeered and yelled at the speakers. But the loudest reactions were the standing ovations for those who advocated for unity.

“How can [we] work toward a solution when people are shouting at you and demonizing you? If you’re against the program then you are anti-dog, you’re selfish people, you think that my furbabies are less than your human baby — who’s actually putting dogs against humans?” said Mancy Cheung. “I don’t understand. Can we work together?”

The pilot program will run through this November. According to the park district’s website, the use of the parks and visitor feedback monitoring will determine the program’s success. They will conduct an online poll and set up a direct email address for consumer input.

Correction: The previous version of this article mistakenly referred to the Great Neck Park District as the “Great Neck Parks Department.”

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