FALCONER, NY (WNY News Now) – A proposed dog park is causing a stir in the Village of Falconer, with mixed reactions for and against the project taking center stage at Monday’s Village Board Meeting.
Nina Gustafson, President of the Falconer Rotary Club explained that her group has partnered with the village to make it happen.
“Approximately fifteen months ago the Falconer Rotary approached the village of Falconer to discuss the possibility of installing a dog park within the village limits. The village had been throwing around the idea of a dog park and we had funds leftover from some of our park projects and we wanted to work with the village in installing a dog park,” says Gustafson.
The tentative location would be within the limits of Falconer Park with a preliminary design already created by the Rotary Club.
“People walk their dogs in the park all the time, a lot of times you see people with their dogs off-leash. This would encourage people to use the dog park, and people who use dog parks generally take care of their animals and so we’re encouraging people to do it the proper way and not have their animals run all over the park,” explains Gustafson.
So far, the Rotary President says reactions to the proposal have been mixed, but in an online survey earlier this year, 52 percent of those polled said they would like to see a dog park somewhere within the village.
“Everything that we have looked at, we’ve looked at all proper safety measures. The height of the fences, we looked at FOB systems so that only the right people are in there. Only people that have registered their animals, animals have to be vaccinated, they have to be registered, not anybody could just walk in there. They have to pay for it,” says Gustafson.
Gustafson also explained that it would be fully funded by the Rotary Club through fundraising and a matching grant, meaning no public funds would be used. The grant however, expires in April.
Village of Falconer Mayor James Jaroszynski says the board plans to review the diagram provided by the Rotary Club before any decisions are made.
“We will review it between now and we’re having another work session early December before our December board meeting. There’ll be no voting on that, it’ll just be a work session and the board will get together and talk once again about the dog park,” says Jaroszynski.
The mayor says the size of the park, dog parks in other villages, and rules and regulations will all be taken into consideration. An amenity like a dog park could also attract new people to the village.
Many residents attended the meeting including Mary Fales, a local veterinarian in support of the dog park who reassured residents about the health of the dogs that would be brought to the park.
“In my profession, I do look at zoonotic diseases and what is important from the DEC aspect and as far as the Clean Water Act, as long as it’s not crossing a waterway, it is actually not physically crossing it, there’s a lot less issues. And that is a big issue that the DEC has looked at,” says Fales.
She also believes that having more people at the park means having more eyes that would decrease the chance of any unwanted activity.
However, other residents like Jim Robato who lives near the proposed location, voiced their concerns about the park.
“My only question would be to ask the Rotary and the board, what aryou going to tell the youth of our village who go over there in the summer for the park program and use that area? Are you gonna tell them that we found a better use for it, we put a dog park in and we feel a dog park is more important than what you use it for in the summertime,” asks Robato.
Another resident, Glen Dickerson, questioned whether the dog park would actually solve the problems it’s intended to solve.
“We keep hearing it’s gonna fix the other poop problem in Falconer Park. I’m sorry but the people that let their dog go to the bathroom at the park already aren’t gonna pay 35 dollars to let them poop in a cage. It’s gonna be 20 feet next to the Moonbrooke, that’s a health hazard,” says Dickerson.
He also says the bathrooms at the park are never open for the public to use, and that there is no handicapped accessibility.