LETTER TO LARCHMONT MAYOR
January 29, 2007
Hon. Elizabeth Noyer Feld
Village of Larchmont Municipal Building
120 Larchmont Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538
permits to be required for New Rochelle park
Dear Mayor Feld:
an effort to discourage dog walking at Ward Acres, a 62-acre public park located off Quaker Ridge Road and Broadfield Road
in New Rochelle, the New Rochelle City Council has enacted regulations that will require, among other things, that New Rochelle
residents purchase an annual permit to walk a dog at Ward Acres at a cost of $50 per dog. The cost for non-residents,
like me, will be $250.
Aside from the dubious legality of such discrimination (Ward Acres was purchased partly
with New York State funds, and the Greenway portion will be refurbished using County funds, the park should be open equally
to all of us), the exorbitant fee required of nonresidents sets an unfortunate precedent. What if Larchmont decided to
charge a fee to the New Rochelle residents who use our parks, take their toddlers to our playgrounds, and walk along
the beach near Manor Park? Public parks and playgrounds are required to be free. See, e.g., General Municipal
This is written to ask that you write a letter to Mayor Bramson of New Rochelledeploring the New Rochelle discriminatory
dog-walking fees and pointing out the freedom with which New Rochelle residents use Larchmont’s
parks and playgrounds. It would be helpful if your letter were also released to the media.
are numerous dog owners in Larchmont who would greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter. We are involved citizens and
I am a member of the New York State Democratic Lawyers’ Council and worked as an official poll watcher/election
law attorney during the recent local elections. Thank you for your consideration.
'The Colonial Greenway will quickly become one of our region’s great open space and recreational resources. I am delighted
by the county’s strong commitment to this project, and look forward to making our nature trails more accessible and
inviting than ever before.'” Dec. 21, 2006
The Mayor misspoke, he really
meant to say “less accessible and inviting than ever before.”
Adding a $250 fee where there was none before does not make the park more accessible and inviting. A whole class of historically
accepted hikers has just been eliminated.
Here is an example: When Saundra, a Larchmont resident
who has been freely walking her leashed dog Fido in Saxon Woods, the Leatherstocking Trail, Sheldrake Lake, ambles into Ward
Acres, she may be ticketed and fined (could even be jailed, we think!) by a uniformed New Rochelle police officer for walking
her dog in Ward Acres without a New Rochelle Ward Acres $250 dog walking permit. Doesn't sound very accessible or inviting
MORE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
So, will the Westchester County
Colonial Greenway Brochure notify users as follows?
“Welcome hikers to Westchester County's Colonial Greenway! Hike our accessible and inviting 15 miles
of open trails...dogs are permitted all along our 15 mile trail system EXCEPT if you plan to use Ward Acres in New Rochelle,
you must first buy a New Rochelle Ward Acres Dog Permit for $250. If you fail to do so, you may be fined or imprisoned...”
We don't think this result
is what the County envisioned when 5 lower Westchester municipalities banded together with County funds to create the “Colonial
Greenway” which will be rolled out this Spring and includes Ward Acres. And we don't think our Mayor really intends
Bottom line? We ask - once City Hall or Westchester County focuses on this
issue (we think they have overlooked it), will New Ro have to eliminate ALL the Ward Acres fees they just unanimously approved?
What is the Colonial Greenway?
Sponsored and subsidized by Westchester County, five lower Westchester municipalities,
including New Rochelle, are about to roll out the "Colonial Greenway," a County-wide 15 mile trail system which will knit
together various Parks, open and natural areas including Ward Acres. What a wonderful idea! We applaud it. The Greenway
will be open to multiple uses by the public from all over the County and beyond. The Larchmont Gazette reports that the County
recently gave New Rochelle $500,000 to help complete its portion of the Greenway.
Unless the Colonial Greenway is planning to BAN ALL DOGS county-wide (which
we doubt), we do not understand how Mayor Bramson and his Council can now impose a $250 fee for non-resident dog owners' use
of its portion of the Colonial Greenway in New Rochelle.
Come to think of it, how can they impose ANY fee on residents' use of a
portion of the same county-wide trail system?
Why is Ward Acres now different than other City
Since New Rochelle
has elected to link Ward Acres to the Colonial Greenway and accepted County funds for its creation, it would seem New Ro has
a duty to treat users of Ward Acres the same as users are treated elsewhere in the county-wide, county-subsidized trail system.
(Of course, any unlinked park in New Rochelle retains its right to ban dogs and impose any fees the City chooses.)
Maybe we are missing something
here - or maybe our City officials are...