New Williamsburg Park Welcomes People, Bans Pooches

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Photo: iStockphoto.com

Williamsburg's new waterfront oasis — East River State Park, it's officially called — opened for business Wednesday, liberating the grass-starved locals to get down to the riverfront. But their dogs remained oppressed. City-run parks welcome dogs, but this state park doesn't. "Look, I understand that when you have dogs here, you're looking to give them exercise and let them play," said Rachel Gordon, city director for the state parks office. "But we don't allow dogs in any of the state parks in the city." One fear, she explained, is that the dogs would damage the new vegetation.

Locals aren't quite buying that argument, and petitions are in the works. "It's a really big issue in the community," said Cathleen Breen of Friends of Williamsburg Park. And Justine Buchanan, who recently moved into the North 8 condos across the street, said her two Chihuahuas are longing. "It's such an industrial neighborhood, and finally we have this beautiful expanse of grass," she said. "Those of us who would enjoy the park most have to stay on the sofa at home." Gordon, the state-parks official — and a dog owner — is standing firm. "It does not seem to be the right place for dogs at this time," she said. "That doesn't mean never." —Dan Levin