FANWOOD, New Jersey (PIX11) — Like most public recreational open spaces, LaGrande Park has basketball and tennis courts, a baseball/softball diamond and a playground. One thing it doesn’t have is dogs in the park, let alone a dog run.
The reason for the absence of four-legged Fanwood residents in the town’s parks is Town Ordinance 05-21-R. It requires that dogs be licensed, vaccinated, leashed, that their waste be properly disposed and that they not enter any of the town’s three public parks.
“The law makes a lot of sense,” said Carolyn Brink, a Fanwood resident, and the pet parent of a goldendoodle named Beckett. “It’s just this one line in the law of a multiple page ordinance, that just doesn’t belong It doesn’t fit today’s Fanwood.”
Brink is leading an effort by neighbors who want dogs allowed in the park to get the town council to revise the ordinance and allow dogs in, with their human families.
Fur parents like Amy and Larry Cohen said that it’s wrong that they, longstanding residents and taxpayers, financially support the upkeep of the parks, but those facilities aren’t accessible by their entire family. That includes their two dogs, Shea and Ty, who, the Cohens said, abide by the rules, along with them.
“We’re not asking them to run freely,” Amy Cohen said. “We do want owners to pick up, and make sure dogs are still licensed, so we can go through the park.”
Part of the reason that dog owners like them want park access is that a majority of streets in the square mile town have no sidewalks. As a result, most people, and their dogs, have to walk in the street, since they can’t enter the park.
There have been some complaint calls about dogs in the park in recent months, but every non-dog owner who spoke with PIX11 News about the situation had the same opinion as Karen Sheirer, a Fanwood resident who was in LaGrande Park on Monday afternoon with her children and their friends.
“I don’t mind dogs in the park,” Sheirer said, “but I do hope all the rules are followed, and that they clean up after the dogs, and keep them on leashes.”
During a meeting Monday night, all but one councilmember voted in favor of the new ordinance. That ordinance will now go through another public hearing before a vote in July.