This photo was taken at 12 o’clock noon on May 17th at Juniper Valley Park.

Many schools have been having field days at the park.

At about 10am, caution tape was wrapped around trees by the Parks Department in the area “designated” for unleashed dogs.

Bus loads of small children started to arrive and blankets were spread throughout the off-leash dog area. Children started to roll around, play soccer and wrestle on the grass.

The supervisor of the children was asked about the event. She said the group consisted of about 300 children from PS 89 in Elmhurst who were part of multilingual classes at the school.

She was asked who designated this space for their picnic. She replied that it was the NYC Parks Department. When told that this was a semi-fenced in dog exercise area and therefore not a good place for children to be playing, rolling around in the grass or eating lunch, the trip leader said that she was disgusted and would bring this up to Parks.

The above incident illustrates how ill-prepared the Parks Department was when it decided to cave in to the demands of a minority of dog owners and sanction the unleashing of dogs in our parks. The unofficial policy became official on May 10th. The Parks Department itself isn’t even aware of what areas it has designated for off-leash activity, yet they expect dog owners and casual park users to be aware of them. Can it get any more absurd than this?

Of course it can.

One of the main arguments put forth by Parks Department and the off-leashers throughout the hearing process was that the presence of people in the parks during late night and morning hours reduced crime and made the parks safer.

According to a May 15th article published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “Prospect Park Loses Early Off-Leash Hours,” reporter Sarah Ryley reported that Jason Ryals, a resident of Brooklyn, takes his dog to off-leash areas in Prospect Park not once, but twice a day:

“`The main issue with a lot of people — what they don’t like about the 9 p.m. [start time], especially with women — is that it’s terrifying in the park after nine, it gets so dark. It’s unsafe,’ said Ryals.”

Wait, there’s more.

Prospect Park long had an “unofficial off-leash policy” that started at 5 p.m. on weekdays in certain areas of the park. Part of the new off-leash regulations written by the Health and Parks Departments has to do with making off-leash hours standard throughout the city – 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. in all parks that are open during those hours. This means that as of May 10th, the 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. hours in Prospect Park were no longer in effect.

From the previously cited article:

“Ryals said he’ll still go to the Nethermead in the evenings on weekdays, and he thinks most of the regulars will do the same. ‘If it’s that serious of an issue [to warrant giving people tickets], then they’re going to need to build a fence or something because it’s gonna be a war between the dog people and the park people, and there’s more dog people,’ he said.”

Yes, you read it correctly, folks. The off-leashers are now predicting a war with the Parks Department, the very agency who went out of their way to legalize off-leash hours on their behalf. How amazingly ironic and incredibly absurd!