Gantry Plaza State Park going to the dogs

After years of being smacked on the nose for their four-legged infractions, Long Island City dog owners are finally being allowed to sniff some fresh, park air.

Gantry Plaza State Park has long been off limits to pooches, but that will now change after area elected officials brokered a deal with state parks officials for a six-month trial run. The trial run opens up Pier 4 to K-9’s during certain morning and evening hours.

As part of the agreement, which began March 1 and runs until September 1, people will be allowed to walk their dogs – on leashes – from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Cathy Nolan and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer hosted the meeting with Rachel Gordon, director of the city region of the New York State Department of Parks and representatives of DOG LIC, a dog owners group based in L.I.C.

Gianaris was especially pleased to reach a deal with parks, as he believes that all city dwellers, including those with four legs, should have city park space to enjoy.

“Our parks and green spaces are treasures for all residents to enjoy,” said Gianaris. “I am grateful to everyone involved for reaching a solution that allows dog owners to access a portion of Gantry State Park while still preserving a space for children and those that simply enjoy laying on the grass.”

When the park opened almost two years ago “Dog Free Zone” signs began popping up, barring pooches from entering the park no matter the time, day or season. Gordon said that dogs were kept out as a way of keeping the park clean and preserving the grass.

“Feces and urine are very bad for the pier wood and people weren’t picking up after their dogs,” she said. “There were various issues when we opened the new section of the park.”

Gordon said that the two sides will reconvene in September to discuss whether or not dogs can become a permanent fixture in the park. For now, city officials and dog owners are happy just to have a portion open for man’s best friend.

"Our parks are jewels to be enjoyed by all," Van Bramer. "I have long advocated for increasing access to Gantry State Park for dog owners and their pets. I am pleased to have worked with my colleagues and community members in forging this compromise, which will allow even more people to enjoy the waterfront."