Rhinebeck-Red Hook dog park nears approval

A dog park for residents of Rhinebeck and Red Hook is getting closer to reality.

As proposed, the park will be located off Stone Church Road behind the ballfields. The location is technically in Red Hook, but belongs to Rhinebeck, according to Rhinebeck Town Council Member Bruce Washburn, who is spearheading the project on the Rhinebeck end.

The park will serve residents of both towns and will feature a fenced-in area where dogs can run off-leash under controlled conditions.

“What we tried to do is share it with Red Hook,” Washburn said. “They have more people than we do, and both towns have a need and an interest in a dog park. So it’s an opportunity to share with another community.”

“At one time there was a plan to put the dog park at Thompson-Mazzarella Park in Rhinebeck,” he added, “but there wasn’t enough room …. There’s limited space there. Another reason is — if you think about it — it would be kind of dangerous at the park because people would take their dogs and put them in the dog park and their kid would be over at the pool, so somebody would be unattended.”

Washburn added that he approached Red Hook with the idea for a joint project and the town appointed Paul Piastro to handle that end of it.

The local law calls for all dogs that use the park to register, first providing proof of up-to-date vaccinations and a valid dog license. When using the park, they must also wear a dog park entry tag that shows their handlers have paid the annual fee that Washburn estimates will be around $25. Only dogs and their handlers will be allowed in the area, with no children under 6 years old and older children only with supervision.

Puppies under 16 weeks are not allowed in the park; however, a separate play and training area for puppies is being considered if funds allow. Other activities such as ball playing will not be permitted, nor will noise-producing devices such as radios or motorized equipment that would be louder than a handler’s voice.

Leashes must not be longer than 6 feet in length and no dog food or treats are allowed in the off-leash area. Handlers may bring in a maximum of two dogs at a time and will be responsible for removing all animal waste.

“We’d like it to be volunteer run,” said Washburn.

“I have a core group of volunteers who are waiting to help out with all phases,” added Piastro.

Washburn has said that the startup cost for the project would be about $2,000 from each town, mostly for fencing.

The public hearing for the law that would authorize the dog park was scheduled for Sept. 24 at 7pm at the Rhinebeck Town Hall.

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