- Settlement of Lawsuit Restores Free Access to Park - Fees and Permit
apply ONLY to the fenced-in dog run.
"I need a photo ID and have to PAY $100 (per dog) to walk with my pet
ON A LEASH in open & natural public parkland?"
YEP! That's what they are doing in
New Rochelle, NY!
(Reduced from $250 as of Jan. 1, 2008.)
(We have yet to find ANY other municipality in America that does this.)
Can you say, "Mayor Noam Bramson's illegal dog tax?"
Paws Place Permits -
owners may now FREELY walk their dogs on leash throughout Ward Acres Park,
users of the 3 acre fenced-in dog run "Paws Place" MUST obtain a permit from the City of New Rochelle, cost $50
per resident household and $100 per non-resident household. Go to City Hall at 515 North Avenue, New Rochelle.
For more information call: City Clerk 914-654-2000.
Saturday June 29, 2008 - Diana Marszalek reports on New Rochelle's new
dog run and Ward Acres licensing and fees:
“If the city can get away with charging money to walk a dog on a leash at Ward
Acres, then why can’t they do that at Hudson Park and Twin Lakes Park in front of the high school?” said Jeffrey
P. Wiegand, a resident of New Rochelle who is part of the group fighting the city.
not what our city is supposed to be about,” he said.
We thank the New York Times for covering this controversy.
COMMENT: Regarding the city's argument that dogs are not permitted in any
city parks (the claim is false in practice, notice the lawyer's use of "technically"), why was there was a municipal sign
at the Ward Acres entrance, for years, telling people to keep their dogs on leashes? $100 per dog seems out of line for something
"technical." (Whatever THAT means!)
Dog owners are being forced to pay $50 or $100 per dog to buy themselves
out of some technicality? We don't "get it."
FYI, go to the park in front of the High School (and other city parks) and
hang out a bit and you will find people currently walking their dogs on leashes with no interference by the city.
The city unfairly tries to justify its fees by invoking a law it does not enforce.
(Even if the city were to enforce its ban, the legal defects of the ordinance would not be remedied. See our During vs the
Thanks for your attention.
Jeff & Lulu
- BREAKING NEWS -
Our Answer to Mayor Bramson's FICTION that Ward Acres Was "UNDER-UTILIZED":
What in the world could Mayor Noam Bramson have meant by describing Ward Acres recently as "under-utilized" before
his bitterly divisive interventions there? Ward Acres used to be busy all day long in every kind of weather as hundreds of
families enjoyed the woods with their pets.
Since the imposition of Bramson's fees and restrictions, the park sits
empty most of the time. Perhaps Mayor Bramson meant that Ward Acres had been "under-utilized" by people without dogs - but
now, more than a year since the restrictions on off-leash dogs, usage of the park by non-dog-walking visitors remains negligible.
It appears what Mayor Noam Bramson meant is that anyone who disagrees with his personal agenda simply ceases to exist.
Citizens of New Rochelle, be warned.
* * * Led by Mayor Noam Bramson, New Rochelle
City Council unanimously approved the amendments at its meeting on Dec. 11, 2007 * * *
retained the fees and photo ID, reduced the non-resident fee from $250 per dog to $100 per dog, committed to build a fenced-in
dog run and prohibited all off-leash recreation outside the dog run effective April 1, 2008.
Be aware that dog owners who want merely to walk their dogs on leashes outside the dog run in Ward Acres must still obtain
the Ward Acres license and pay the fees.
Under the city code offenders are being required to appear in court and are subject to a fine of not more than $250 or
imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both.
PARK DOG REGULATIONS MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2007
CONTACTS: Chuck Strome, City
Manager (914-654-2140) William Zimmermann, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation (914-654-2087)
New Rochelle, NY;
On Tuesday, December 4, 2007, City Manager Chuck Strome and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Bill Zimmermann jointly proposed
to the New Rochelle City Council the following Ward Acres Park dog regulations for 2008:
Ward Acres Dog Permit Fee:
Effective January 1, 2008, the annual fee for a Ward Acres Dog Permit will remain at $50 per dog owned by a Resident of the
City, and will be decreased to $100 per dog owned by a Non-Resident of the City. A Ward Acres Dog Permit will continue to
be required for any dog in the Park.
Fenced-In Dog Run for Unleashed Dogs: Effective April 1, 2008, unleashed dogs
with Ward Acres Dog Permits will be allowed from dawn to dusk in a new fenced-in dog run to be constructed at Ward Acres.
The fenced-in dog run will be the largest in Westchester County, comprised of at least 3 acres in size. The fence will be
constructed of visually and environmentally non-instrusive material, at an economical cost which will not require the allocation
of new funds by the City.
Leashed Dogs in Balance of Park: Effective April 1, 2008, the balance of Ward Acres Park,
other than the Fenced-In Dog Run Area, will be available dawn to dusk for the walking of leashed dogs with Ward Acres Dog
Regulations January 2008 - March 2008: Other than the reduction in Fee for a Non-Resident Dog Permit to $100
which will be effective January 1, all other existing regulations for leashed and unleashed dogs in Ward Acres Park, including
but not limited to existing leashed and unleashed hours, will remain in place for the months of January through March 2008.
"BRAMSON's BULLYING" DISCUSSED ON NATIONAL RADIO PROGRAM!
Using NY state conservation
funds, the city of New Rochelle purchased 62 acres of open parkland (Ward Acres) in 1962.
New Rochelle neglected
the park for decades.
For decades the
park served as a haven for hundreds of dog owners and their families who walked with their dogs off-leash, traded dog training
and nurturing tips and tended the park, volunteering their time and money.
Effective April 1, 2007, the city enacted an ordinance that severely curtails off-leash recreation, imposes on any dog owner
using the Park illegal, exorbitant and discriminatory fees (the "Dog Tax" - $250/yr per non-resident and $50/yr per resident
dog) and burdensome licensing requirements (including picture IDs of dog owners and their families!). Dog owners are
also now subject to police interrogation any time they are in the park with their dogs. Armed police are stopping law-abiding
citizens in the park and demanding to see their photo IDs.
This excessive regulation applies whether the dog is on leash or off. What's to keep our city officials from
imposing this scheme on its other parks or on other classes of Park users?
We believe there
is a paucity of fact-finding by the city to support its actions and policies.
PARK USAGE PLUMMETED: Since April 1st, usage of the Park has plummeted. Apparently, there
is no groundswell of nature lovers eager to walk Ward Acres who are deterred by unleashed dogs. But a vibrant, diverse
community of pet lovers has been needlessly eliminated. Recently, abuse of the Park and vagrancy appear to be on the
rise in the absence of the regular Park monitoring and care that the dog owning community had conducted.
Ward Acres is located in the North End's District #5 which is Councilman Barry Fertel's seat. We call the Ordinance
and the severe harm it is causing "Bramson's Bullying" aka "Fertel's Folly." (FYI, Mayor Bramson also lives in
Fertel's District - Do they want the Park all to themselves? Or maybe they just don't like dogs in "their" Park.)
Dog owners understand
that dog and non-dog use of the park must be rebalanced. But they seek an equitable allocation of hours and the elimination
of the Dog Tax, punitive regulations and police-state tactics of enforcement.
THE LAWSUIT: Three dog owners (led by volunteer lawyers) have
sued the city, contesting the Dog Tax, double-licensing and mode of police enforcement. The lawsuit does not address
the allocation of on/off-leash hours. Judge Denis Donovan dismissed Plaintiffs' case without much explanation on Sept.
10, 2007. Plaintiffs filed their Notice of Appeal on October 4, 2007 and will vigorously pursue it.
THE ELECTION: On Election Day Tuesday November 6, voters including dog owners, their friends
and concerned citizens elected three dog-friendly candidates to city council, Al Tarantino, Richard St. Paul and
In December, the lame duck city council amended the ordinance by reducing the non-resident fee to $100 per dog
and eliminating all off-leash recreation outside a proposed fenced-in dog run of at least 3 acres. Dog
owners still need to pay fees and get a photo ID to walk their dogs on leashes in the public park.
THE FUTURE: We hope to eventually convince the city and the new council to reconsider
the ordinance, and its December amendment, and replace it with a program that 1) eliminates the fees and licensing 2) preserves
and fosters the decades-old community of dog owners at Ward Acres and 3) affords lively & thorough enjoyment of the
park by users without dogs. These goals need not be incompatible.
If New Rochelle gets away with this ordinance, we believe citizens can expect other municipalities throughout the state
will be tempted to copycat this discriminatory revenue raiser.
A RECENT LETTER TO CITY OFFICIALS SAYS IT ALL...
Dear Mayor Bramson,
We have been walking our dog at Ward Acres for 10 years. Not only does our pet miss her walks that added so
much to her health and well-being, we miss the friends, mostly New Rochelle residents, that we have made there over the years,
adding to mutual health and social well-being.
You have chosen to eliminate the "culture" that has existed at
Ward for 30 years. At Ward Acres, we brought not only our dogs, but our children, our friends and other family members.
You have destroyed a venue through which, this precious culture, so lacking in lower Westchester, had evolved simply via dogs.
It's not about the dogs. In "bedroom" communities, most of us don't even know the
neighbors on the street where we live!. At Ward, our dogs were merely a common thread; everyone knew everyone there!
There are 69 million pet owning households in the US. 2 out of every 3 SINGLE FAMILY households
are pet owners and 75% of them treat their pets as if they were a family member. This is data from the American Pet Products
Although one-third of renters responding to a recent Apartments.com
survey described finding a rental that allowed pets “very difficult,” 84 percent of respondents said they currently
live in a property that allowed pets. Eighty-four percent of surveyed renters own pets.
Gene, Susan & Amy Heubel.......and Missy our beloved Wheaten Terrier
Notice to the City of New Rochelle
With great regret, the
dog-owning community of Ward Acres relinquishes its care of the Park to the City of New Rochelle. Due to the limited access
to Ward Acres after April 1, 2007, dog owners will no longer be able to collect litter, manage trash collection and tend the
Park in other ways.
The following tasks vital to the safety, welfare and aesthetics of the Park, NOW
must be assumed by the Parks & Recreation staff or other City agencies:
ORDER AND SPREAD
wood chips on areas of trails vulnerable to mud on a regular schedule and after intense storms;
garbage cans and plastic liner bags at the entrances, at the stone walls inside the rear entrance, and in the meadow. As a
courtesy, dog owners have also supplied small baggies suitable for dog waste for the convenience of visitors who may have
forgotten to pack their own;
GATHER full garbage bags and place them near the main Broadfield
Road entrance for Sanitation Department pick-up Monday and Thursday mornings;
CLEAR the Park
of litter, particularly on Sunday mornings, to remove beer cans and other evidence of late-night partying;
inside the Park to deter vagrancy and vandalism;
MAINTAIN the stone walls and
removal of invasive vines.
We hope that in the future we will be able to resume our efforts on behalf of the Park;
however, it is unrealistic to expect us to volunteer our services within the few hours allotted to us in the Park.
Ward Acres is a publicly-owned 62 acres of undeveloped wilderness in the
middle of bustling New Rochelle, New York. As of April 1st, newly instituted city regulations will severely limit access to
the park for dogs and their families.
Many of us who frequent Ward Acres, some with our beloved dogs and
others simply with family and (human) friends, believe that these regulations unfairly penalize dog owners, while effectively
destroying the wonderful community of devoted nature lovers that has developed at Ward Acres in recent years. Together, we
have tended to Ward Acres, removing litter and maintaining a system for trash disposal. We have developed wonderful friendships
with each other, and we cherish the opportunity to provide our dogs with the exercise and excitement they need to remain healthy,
happy members of our society.
The quiet rustle of the leaves,
the meandering country paths, the peacefulness and solitute of the woods, the companionship of fellow citizens and friends...
We believe Ward Acres is a place that everyone in New Rochelle would benefit from enjoying.
We hope to preserve all that is special and wonderful about Ward Acres,
while urging the City of New Rochelle genuinely to share it with everyone in our community.
Please take a few moments to visit our site with Lulu as your guide. A border
collie mix, New Rochelle resident, and New Rochelle Humane Society graduate, Lulu is a Ward Acres aficionado!
Please join our mailing list and come visit Ward Acres!
Click the photo for a biography of ME and all my friends at Ward Acres!
Ward Acres on a wintry afternoon.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep... Click the photo for more pictures of Ward Acres.
Some say, "People first!" But for every dog, there is
AT LEAST one person, often two or more . . . Excluding dogs = excluding people.
Invitation to ALL friends of Lulu:
your thoughts on how you use Ward Acres and what it means to you and your friends and family. Send us your photos to post
on the site. Help us share Ward Acres with the New Rochelle community, in the hope that the City Council will decide to share
it with us!