Who let the dogs in? NJ borough backtracks on anti-canine park law
After 20 years, dogs are again welcome in public parks in Fanwood after a vote by the Borough Council on Monday night.
The Borough Council in Fanwood adopted an ordinance Monday night by a 5-1 vote allowing dogs that are leashed, licensed and non-aggressive into the borough’s three public parks: LaGrande Park, Forest Road Park and Carriage House Park.
People who bring a dog to the parks are responsible for picking up after the dog or face a fine.
The ordinance made headlines this year after NJ.com reported that a resident had called the police on dogwalkers nearly two dozen times in a year.
Before the vote, Carolyn Brink, a resident who has been pushing for the ordinance for two years, addressed concerns raised by resident Phyllis Mahoney who saw dogs leave droppings that were not picked up in Forest Road Park and then children playing in the same spot.
Brink said she is confident that residents of the "decent, kind community" will follow the rules and pick up garbage in the park not the responsibility of dogs.
"My husband and I walked through the park yesterday and picked up pizza wrappers, Burger King wrappers, Chick-fil-A wrappers. They weren’t left by my dog. They were left people using the park. It happens. We police ourselves," Brink told the council.
Reasons to vote no
The lone vote against the ordinance was cast by Patricia Walsh who said that the parks are too small to accommodate both canine and human visitors.
"I believe that instead of worrying about dogs' rights to use the parks and the dogs' safety we should really be thinking about the people and the children and everyone that use the parks. I know that some people may think dogs have the same rights as residents. I do not agree," Walsh said.
Walsh also said she was concerned about the enforcement. Police will not be in the park and and the Department of Public Works said they don't have the staff for extra park cleanup.
"And our rec committee that we usually take their recommendation from has recently voted again six out of six against changing the ordinance," Walsh said.
The ordinance took effect immediately and will be reviewed after a year.
Brink told NJ.com that she was taking her dog Beckett on a celebratory walk Monday night.
Linden, Roselle Park and Springfield are the only Union County communities that still ban dogs from their parks.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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