League of Women Voters
Februrary 12, 2007
Ina Aronow, President
23 Pebble Way
New Rochelle, New York 10804
Dear Mrs. Aronow;
Unfortunately I am not able to attend the League of Women Voters meeting this Friday, but please extend
to your membership my invitation to visit Ward Acres with me and my dog, LuLu. (Incidentally, you may wish to review
the list of officers posted on-line for the League, as I have called every number listed and two were out of service and I
received no replies from any of my messages left on the other numbers.) We feel strongly that one cannot comprehend
what a magical oasis and warm community Ward Acres has become without experiencing it firsthand.
If your members are reluctant to brave the recent wintry temperatures perhaps you could refer to me
the potential patrons of Ward Acres that you have in mind when you seek to eliminate our off-leash hours. I have a number
of friends who have disagreed with me on Ward Acres, but after visiting, or even just discussing the matter face-to-face,
we have invariably come up with workable compromises to allow access to all.
Again, I hope that anyone interested in the future of Ward Acres will
come on a walk with me and learn what is at stake. I can be reached at ******* or by e-mail at ***************.
Thank you for your attention.
Kathryn Donovan Wiegand
Of Dogs Parks
Dear Mayor Noam Bramson,
My name is Valeri Larko and I am a New Rochelle Resident
who visits the Ward Acre
Dog Park everyday with my Shepard-Lab
mix Ruby Tuesday. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts regarding the Ward Acres dog park. It’s important
to remember that there are many other parks in New Rochelle,
but this is the only one that is friendly to dogs and people alike.
Two years ago, my husband and I purchased a Condo
in downtown New Rochelle, because we saw the area as a diamond
in the rough. We came from New Jersey and Connecticut suburban neighborhoods where there are parks and open spaces
dedicated to dogs and their owners. In New
Rochelle, we had a hard time finding a place to let her run and socialize with other dogs. At first I was taking her to Glen Island but quickly realized that she was not allowed off leash there. A local resident then told me about the Ward Acre’s Dog
Park. Being new to the area, I had no idea where Ward Acres was located,
so I called City Hall. I spoke with a city employee who told me, that yes
there was an unofficial dog park at Ward Acres and was given directions to the park.
What a joy it was to discover this great place with lots of long trails where Ruby could get some much needed exercise
and playtime with other dogs. An added bonus was we met many of our neighbors
and became better integrated into the lovely community.
Since discovering Ward Acres in April of 2004, we have
been extremely grateful to have the dog park and we utilize it daily, regardless of the weather or time of year. Which brings
me to one of my first positive points about the dog park. In the last public meeting regarding Ward Acres, we were told that
the park was under utilized and that this was an issue that needed to be addressed. I must say I totally disagree with this
analysis of Ward Acres. Since I visit the park daily I see that there are many people, albeit many with dogs, at the park
at all times of the day and in all kinds of weather year round. I can’t say the same for other area parks in the area
that do not permit dogs off leash.
In particular I am thinking of the Nature Study
Woods on Webster Ave in New Rochelle. Have you visited that park lately? I
have on a number of occasions and it contrasts sharply with what I see at Ward Acres. First there’s hardly anyone there
and I would call this park under utilized for sure. In the summer you have a few people jogging, an occasional mountain bike
rider, or horseback rider as well as an occasional person with their dog. There are far fewer people at this park then at
Ward Acres and the result is that the place is a breeding ground for litter and mischief by local youth and people who are
looking for a place to dump their garbage. Every time I go there I see a lot of garbage and this has gotten worst since the
one garbage can was remove from the entrance on Webster. I have also witnessed
two young men rushing from the park on their bicycles as they heard my dog and I approach. What wholesome activity were these
young men pursuing? They had dragged a bunch of trees limbs and old furniture into a pile and had set a rather large bonfire
going in the middle of the afternoon on a summer day. Obviously doing this in the middle of the woods is neither a good nor
safe idea. Luckily the kids ran before they added any more fuel to the fire and I had a cell phone so I called the local fire
department to make sure the blaze died down and did not spread any further.
Judging from the large amount of litter I have seen
the Nature Study Woods, it is obviously a place for underage people to drink, smoke and eat junk food. The fact is, I have
never seen litter like this at the Ward Acres dog park. Why? Because the place if regularly used by people who care about
the park and clean up after themselves and their dogs. Garbage cans are available and the dog walkers and others help by emptying
the garbage cans on a regular basis and putting clean garbage bags into the cans. This is not a park where a couple of kids
could have the time and privacy to start a bonfire in the middle of the day and NO ONE would notice.
I do not think you realize how much the dog walkers
add to the cleanliness of the park. I have seen them regularly pick up garbage and empty the garbage cans. I too have picked
up garbage at the park, because I feel that since I use and love it, I want to keep it nice. This is the kind of thing that
happens when people appreciate and use a resource like Ward Acres. Once again I suggest you check out the Nature Study Woods
to see the difference when a park is under utilized and not cared for. You could also check out Glen Island Park
that is more frequently used but is always awash with garbage.
I’d like to take issue with another negative
statement that has been made about the dog park, namely one gentleman stated at the last public meeting, that it’s not
a matter of if, but when as far as a dog biting someone in the park. Now let’s take a closer look at that argument.
Dogs that are at the park are socialized. What does that mean? It means that the dogs are exposed to other dogs and people
on a regular basis, the significance of which is that the dogs that go to the dog park are the least likely dogs to ever bite
anyone. You have the best chance of experiencing a dog bite in a private home where a dog has not been exposed to other dogs
or people other then family members. In that setting a dog is much more likely to become possessive or territorial and to
lash out because they feel cornered when someone new comes into the home. Dog
bites at the park are not an issue and it’s a shame that people who know very little about dogs and their behavior would
promote this false information in order to scare people at the park.
Let’s talk about fencing in the dog park. What’s
wrong with that you may ask? The reason Ward Acres works so well is because there are trails that you can go off on with your
dog and you are not enclosed in a small area where overcrowding can results in dogs and people not getting along. The way
the park is currently set up there’s always enough room for people to walk away if their dog does not get along with
another dog. This totally eliminates any problems that could occur if a large number of dogs are enclosed in a small area.
When I lived in NJ, Ruby and I frequented an enclosed dog park and found that when dogs are overcrowded, they did not always
get along. Tempers can flair with owners also.
I witnessed bigger fights between the people then I did the dogs! Another disturbing thing I noticed about the fenced
in area, is that because it was fenced people who could not control their dogs felt very comfortable bringing them into a
fenced in area and leaving them run. You cannot do that when a dog is off leash and not fenced in. You have to train your
dog to come when called and to listen to you. I also saw people drop off their dogs in the fenced in park and leave! Why because
they did not have to worry where their dog would be when they came for it later. Unfortunately these people had not trained
their dogs to pick up their poop, so it was left for someone (usually me) to step in.
Another problem with enclosed dog parks is there are
no trails to hike etc so that both dogs and people get a lot less exercise. Everyone winds up just standing around and watching
their dogs instead of walking and hiking when they are restricted to an enclosed area.
With the building boom that is going on in down town
New Rochelle, I would suggest to you that the need for an off leash dog park is going to become more and more important as
all those fancy condo and rental apartments that Trump and Avalon on the Sound are putting up become occupied. Many of New Rochelle’s new residents will have dogs and no yards. Where
are they going to walk their dogs? One guess: Ward Acres.
An enclosed area will become quickly crowded once the
dog population expands.
last plea to keep the Ward Acres a place where dogs and people can roam freely concerns ticks. Yes ticks! I have never seen
a tick at Ward Acres and I regularly go into the wooded areas with my dog. This contrasts sharply with the Nature Study woods,
which is full of ticks. There are signs there that warn people of the danger of being bite by a tick in that park. Why are
there no signs at Ward Acres warning about ticks? That’s because there are none yes that’s right. This is another advantage to having dogs in a wooded area is that most people treat their dogs with Frontline
and when ticks try and feed off them it kills them very quickly and that tends to deplete the area of ticks over time.
Dogs and children are the two most likely victims of Lyme disease. This is
a very serious disease that is becoming more serious each year. Dogs attract ticks much more readily than humans and having
them in a wooded area, will make it safer for humans to use the woods. Every wooded area around here that is off limits to
dogs is infested with ticks. If you have ever walked through the woods at the Larchmont Reservoir off of Weaver Street, especially in autumn you would be sure to walk out with a few ticks on
you and it only takes one to give you or your dog Lyme disease. The wooded areas that are used by off leash dogs are much
safer to visit and that is definitely not a coincidence. It's easy to lose sight of this issue if Lyme disease has not already
affected someone you care about but the best way to deal with Lyme disease is to reduce the number of ticks before the ticks
become infected. Off leash dogs is not going to completely solve this problem but it can definitely be part of the solution.
In closing let me say that I do not want my tax dollars to be used to create
a big fancy park that very few people will use. You may feel that Ward Acres is not being used enough by the general public,
but you may find that after spending millions of tax payers dollars, that the new and improved park is used even less. Once
again I refer to the Nature Study Woods and I can’t help but wonder why that park is not better cared for and utilized
by locals and school groups. The same can be said of the Larchmont Reservoir, which has a nature center and is located just
2 minutes from Ward Acres. Could it be that there is not a need for another park in New
Rochelle that is off limits or heavily restricted to dogs and their owners. Perhaps Ward Acres is doing
exactly what the community needs and it is not costing millions of dollars to the community to do so.
Thank you for taking the time to consider the many positive aspects of Ward
Acres as it currently stands.
New Rochelle, NY
LETTER TO MAYOR BRAMSON AND CITY COUNCIL FEB
Shortening the hours at Ward Acres for off leash walking, will not just
affect me as a dog owner, but as a person.
By nature I am not an activist. But when a valuable asset is threatened,
is time to step up to the plate. Last time I got active in New Rochelle
was to help save our Libraries. Now I am hoping to help save Ward Acres.
It is a resource that I never knew about until I got Charlie, my 9 month
It is rare to find 62 acres of woods and fields to hike with a canine
companion. But, I can't always get to Ward Acres by 8:30 or 9:00 in the
morning, and early evenings are filled with taxiing my children, doing
homework, and making dinner.
Ward Acres is a place to make friends, get advice, share stories, etc.
is a kind of community center where you never feel excluded, where people
welcome you easily and are always happy to walk and chat with you or to
you a new trail. It is truly a rarity.
I am a happier, healthier person since I began going to Ward Acres, and
Charlie is a better dog for it. Being around other dogs teaches puppies
like him to be good citizens and wears them out. More dogs would end up
shelters without the exercise they get at Ward Acres. Even if I walked
Charlie for 3 hours daily on leash, I could never give him the amount of
exercise his body needs. Ward Acres allows me to exercise at my pace, and
Charlie to exercise at his.
There are already plenty of parks in New Rochelle for people, many of them
rarely used. Ward Acres is the only park used every day all day long.
Changing the hours for off leash walking will in all likelihood not increase
park usage, but decrease it. By driving away the dog owners who care for
the park, and in their numbers keep it safe, aren't we inviting misuse
the park, the kind that scares families away?
In closing, I would like to add that I am willing to pay a fee for using
park, to help defray the cost of its upkeep. But, limiting the hours of
very people who pay the fee is unfair and discriminatory.
Ward Acres is not only a beautiful place to take a walk; it is a valuable
resource worth protecting. Please don't take that away by limiting the
hours so drastically.
New Rochelle Resident
Larchmont Gazette Feb. 1, 2007:
Larchmonters Will Pay More to Walk Dogs in NR Park
New Rochelle is about to do something very un-neighborly to many residents
of Larchmont. Effective April 1, 2007, a fee of $250 per year will be required of any Larchmont resident (any non-resident
of New Rochelle) who wishes to walk his or her dog in Ward Acres on or off-leash.
Notwithstanding the fact that Ward Acres was purchased with NY State Conservation
Funds in 1962 and is presently a section of the county-wide Colonial Greenway, Mayor Bramson and his Council have seen fit
to impose this exorbitant fee.
As a resident of New Rochelle, I am embarrassed by this treatment of our
neighbors and fear this draconian measure could lead to a loss of goodwill in our community and a possible "protectionist
park war" in lower Westchester County.
New Rochelle, NY
January 25, 2007
to Mayor and City Council:
We are desperate and deeply
saddened to loose our only open space where our dogs can run free. I’m sad to say around here nothing is dog friendly….upstate
they have parks and reserves like this in every town, village and City. Here, people drive 45 minutes just to come to Ward
It’s a Jewel and we need help trying to save it! Thanks for listening!
When I was at Ithaca College I adopted a Lab, and took her to the
WILD FLOWER PRESERVE everyday. This is an old reservoir, like the Sheldrake, where your dogs can run free with all their
friends. People also go there to swim, fish and hike, without a
It is patrolled by Park Rangers...
This is just one example of how people with and without dogs can share a
Letter from Christina
I have lived in the city of New Rochelle for 29 years. We
walk our dogs...off and on leash, at a 62-acre forest like preserve called WARD ACRES. The WARD family left their
estate to the city as an OPEN SPACE and it became one of our parks. Over the past 30 years the city HAS DONE NOTHING to clean
up and maintain this land. It is overgrown with invasive weeds that are killing the trees. Every year more and more healthy
trees are being strangled by the vines. The trails would not exist if wasn't for all of us citizens who come here to walk
their dogs. The constant foot traffic keeps the vines at bay. We clean up, we bring the trash to the street and provide the
bags, pick up beer cans etc.
We are like a family, who knows each other by the names of our dogs.
At first I was happy that after all this time The City of New Rochelle
wants to actually get involved with this park!
But then you tried to sell us this PowerPoint done by a firm the city
paid $75, 000 to. The Presentation showed a RESTURANT, a Museum new trails and a nature center. Everyone went crazy.
A restaurant and museum in the woods?????
Our nature reserve?????
Our kids need to walk not sit and eat.
The Sheldrake Environmental Center is right down the street. Why have 2 nature
centers within walking distance?
Well those plans did not fly and we threw 75, 000 down the drain!
Why the city did not hold focus groups to find out what people wanted
before spending money on a planning firm I have no idea!
A responsible government holds scoping sessions and focus groups to
determine what the residents want BEFORE rendering powerpoint presentations and spending precious city park money that could
have went to much better use.
Then the city proposed a fence to keep our dogs penned in....
a $500.000 fence at that.
I would have been
happy to have 8 or so acres with a fence for off leash use but not at the cost of 500.000. This Idea also, did not
fly. The price just seemed to be to much. I would have rather seen that money go to restoring the barn. That is a historic
building for New Rochelle and should be used again for the Chamber of Commerce Haunted House since the Armary will soon be
sold to more builders. Many people, at the meetings, spoke out about restoring the barn but for some reason that idea was
Now the City has Bonded $500.000 for invasive vine removal. Even though
they have over 300 volunteers like me who are willing to give their time to remove the vines along with a hired Arborist.
The vines do need to go in order to save the trees!!!!!!! For that
I am thankful.
This it the price
that comes with New Rochelle finely cleaning up the park….
STARTING APRIL 1st
2007 residents will be charged a 50 fee per dog to go to the park, non residents $250.00.
Off leash hours are now limited:
Weekdays before 10 AM and from 5 PM till Dusk (Dusk is 5:30 most of
No off leash hours
on the Weekends or Holiday’s!
The citizens of New Rochelle have a voice and are banding together so
we can be heard.
Angelo Carino JR
from Joyce S. Kent
January 12, 2007
Mr. Charles Strome
City of New Rochelle
New Rochelle, NY 10801
Dear Mr. Strome:
I am writing to you to convey the disappointment I feel regarding your
recommendations to the City Council about the future of Ward Acres. I served on the Ward Acres Steering Committee and
I tried hard to understand and accommodate the differing points of view.
As the chairman of the science department for the New Rochelle Secondary
Schools, I recognize the importance of environmental education. Ward Acres could serve as a nature center that offers hands-on
programs for children of all ages. I appreciate that teachers would not wish to take students on nature trips if dogs
were allowed to run loose.
I also recognize that there may be some people who would feel intimidated
and apprehensive if dogs were allowed to run free. For that reason, I supported having hours that restricted use of the park
only to dogs that were leashed.
At the same time, I am a dog owner who loves to bring her dog to Ward Acres
in the early morning before my workday begins. Despite the fact that I was open to compromise, I no longer feel that
I can be supportive of the current proposal for the following reasons:
People without dogs may use the park for free. Those with
dogs will be required to pay $50 for each one ($250 for non-New Rochelle residents). Given that fact, is it fair and
equitable that the people who must pay have only a fraction of the daylight hours available to them?
It is obvious that the two-dog limit was proposed to discourage
dog walkers. You may not realize that dog walkers play a significant role in keeping the park clean and are able to
control their dogs better than many pet owners. If your objection is that they are using the park for profit, what about
nannies who bring their charges to playgrounds in other New Rochelle parks? Do we tell these caretakers that there is
a limit on the number of children they may supervise?
Some dog walkers have been in business for many years. That is
their chosen profession. Changing the rules will have a substantial impact on their ability to earn a living. When zoning
ordinances are changed, those with non-conforming uses are often grandfathered for as long as they continue to own the property.
Shouldn’t similar consideration be given to the dog walkers who rely so heavily upon the facilities at Ward Acres?
Many people own three or more dogs. There is a group of
people who graciously foster dogs so that they are not euthanized. In addition, dog owners take care of their friends’
dogs when they go on vacation. Why should they be required to make needless, additional trips to the park so as not
to violate the two-dog limit?
The weekend hours are particularly disturbing to me. In
the summer, all dogs must be leashed by 10:00 a.m. Many people go to church or synagogue or like to sleep a little later
on the weekends. Many families enjoy taking outings in the afternoon with their dog. Teenagers often don’t arise
until noon. As a practical matter, they will not be able to comply with the 10:00 a.m. restriction. In addition, if
all the dog owners are required to use Ward Acres during this narrow window of opportunity, there is a greater likelihood
of problems due to the crowded conditions that may prevail.
I would like to propose the following changes:
1. Dog may be unleashed from dawn to 11:00 a.m. during the week. I think that after 4:00
p.m. in the winter and 5:00 p.m. in the summer is fair.
2. If you must restrict the number of dogs permitted to be off leash, make it 4 or 5.
3. Give the dog owners until 1:00 p.m. on weekends.
I want to make it clear that your new restrictions will have little effect
on my excursions to Ward Acres. I am writing as a resident of New Rochelle who feels you are not recognizing the needs
of a substantial number of its citizens.
Joyce S. Kent
Cc: Noam Bramson