Long Island City dogs are wagging their tails in delight.
Unbeknownst to many casual dog walkers and LIC residents, the State Parks Department began allowing the four-legged friends on Pier 1 at Gantry Plaza State Park from open to close — 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.— this past spring.
Dog owners were officially notified on Aug. 15 — despite the park’s website still saying it allows leashed dogs from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
“I’m thrilled that we’re allowed now, to bring our dogs,” said Kari Esh, a LIC resident who was walking her dog Alana with her two children on Monday afternoon. “I mean Long Island City is so dog friendly, it’s one of the reasons that I moved here.”
The dog-walking controversy started in 2008 when the state Parks Department expanded the waterfront area and then banned dogs.
“There was an outcry,” said Perrin Salat, an administrator for DOG LIC, a neighborhood organization with 400 members working for more dog friendly spaces.
They worked with area senators, councilmen, the Parks Department and Queens West Development Corp. to try to bring back dog walking to the Gantries. LIC has a big dog community with many of the new condominiums touting pet-friendly amenities.
“Thousands of new people were told about this great dog-friendly neighborhood and we had just been banned from taking our dogs to the park,” Salat said, adding that it just didn’t make sense.
Then after lots of campaigning, the Parks Department started a trial period last year on Pier 1, where dog owners could use the space in the morning and at night. Salat said there were no incidents and the pier was kept excrement free.
“I am pleased our efforts to make Gantry State Park more pet-friendly, beginning with limited pier access last year, resulted in the decision to make Pier 1 an open-access area all day,” state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.
DOG LIC and some LIC officials would like to see the other three piers open to pets.
“I would like to see further access to the piers. The State Park Department has been more and more receptive,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “It’s important to be able to enjoy all the riches of the neighborhood.”
Van Bramer added that he is not pushing for the grass space to be open to dog use. He said he has talked to parents who would be worried about the potential mess dogs could leave in the grass.
LIC dog owner Rajiv Shah is happy about the Pier 1 opening, but would like grass access.
“My only thought is that I wish they would open up some of the grass area. At least at designated times to bring your dogs out on it — just like theother city Parks do, which is before9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.,” he said.
But after four years of work, dog proponents are happy with their Pier 1 victory.