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Heckscher Park

Dogs will be permitted into Huntington’s Heckscher Park begining Jan. 1. Photo by Media Origins

On Jan. 1, the Town of Huntington will begin a three-month pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, subject to certain limitations. If the trial period is successful, the pilot will extend in three-month increments to gather data from use of the park in different seasons.

The program is the result of a town board resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), developed in response to a petition that circulated this past summer calling for better access to the park for dogs and their owners.

Greenlawn resident Karen Thomas helped draft and circulate the successful petition campaign this past summer.

“Over 2,500 dog owners have spoken and the Huntington board listened,” said Thomas.

Cergol announced her position on opening up the park to dogs on a trial basis in a Sept. 5 Times of Huntington news article. The resolution she drafted was unanimously approved at the town’s Oct. 16 board meeting.

“The relationship between dogs and humans continues to evolve, and it is becoming increasingly common to see dog owners and their canine family members together in public places,” Cergol said. “I am excited that we are about to extend this option at Huntington’s downtown signature park and look forward to our partnership with [the nonprofit Long Island Dog Owners Group] in ensuring the pilot program’s success.”

LI-DOG is a nonprofit advocacy group looking to increase access for dog owners to public spaces. It’s president, Ginny Munger Kahn, was designated as the lead public education campaign coordinator.

“Our job is to make sure all the dog owners know that it’s in their best interest to follow the basic guidelines,” she said. “Overall, respect other park users. That’s the key.”

Specifically, this means keeping dogs on a leash less than 6-feet long and under control. No retractable leashes are allowed, and people are limited to no more than two dogs per individual. People are also expected to clean up after their dogs once they do their business. People, Kahn said, are good with this part.

“People have precedence over dogs on the path,” Kahn said. “Step off the path onto the grass as people pass by unimpeded.”

Heckscher Park’s trails, which are more narrow than other town pathways, suggest that this is an important part of the guidelines to remember.

Cergol formed an advisory committee that includes representatives of her staff, various town departments, LI-DOG and the town’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities to create the educational program. The group has met twice and has developed program guidelines from those gatherings and individual conversations.

The committee has so far planned to post signage at various spots in the park, including all the major entrances. A video to be aired on the town’s government access television channel and on its social media pages and LI-DOG’s pages will demonstrate what is allowed and what is not. They’ve also developed informational cards to hand out to dog owners in the park.

“We believe ultimately having leashed dogs in the park is a really good thing,” Kahn said. “For one thing, dogs influence socializing among people who don’t know each other.”

They also deter geese, which are fouling the parks pathways.

 

 

Thousands of Long Islanders traveled to Huntington this weekend to enjoy the 25th annual LI Fall Festival at Heckscher Park. The event, presented by Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, brings together four stages featuring live entertainment with carnival rides,  games, a food courts, a wine and beer garden, petting zoos and more.

The festival runs through 5 p.m. Monday. Click through the photos above to see if TBR News Media caught you having fun. Take your own selfie or photos of the fair? Email them to sara@tbrnewsmedia.com to join our gallery. 

Huntington residents stood silently in the cold rain Sept. 9 to honor the 43 people from the Town of Huntington who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As each victim’s name was read aloud by a Huntington town official, a bell was rung by a Bill Ober, chairman of the town’s Veterans Advisory Board, and a single rose was laid at the base of the 9/11 memorial in Heckscher Park. The names were read by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) and councilmembers Mark Cuthbertson (D), Gene Cook (R) and Joan Cergol (D).

“It’s hard to believe that there’s an entire generation of young people who do not [what?] what it was like to live and experience with memories of that day,” Lupinacci said. “It is the memory of your loved ones that we hold this ceremony each year and every year, so that we can remember your loss, which remains our loss, and educate those too young to have lived through that day.”

Seven of the 43 names read were first responders, including members of the Fire Department of the City of New York  and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

“As always on this sad day of remembrance, we ask the question what we can productively do in the face of such extreme hatred and evil,” said Rabbi Yaakov Raskin, of Chabad of Huntington Village, who gave the benediction for the ceremony. “Much in the answer lies in the education of our children.”

Families enjoy an afternoon of free activities at the 18th annual Tulip Festival

The sun may have been hiding Sunday, but the tulips were out in full bloom in Huntington.

Residents strolled pathways bursting with color at the Town of Huntington’s 18th annual Tulip Festival May 6 in Heckscher Park. Thousands of tulips planted in selected beds throughout the park provided a scenic backdrop as families enjoyed and afternoon of free hands-on activities and live entertainment.

Scroll through our photos above and see if we caught you tiptoeing through the tulips.

Event will be held in Huntington Town Hall's parking lot March 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Town of Huntington will host a Organ Donor Enrollment Day Oct. 10. File photo by Rohma Abbas

The organizers of the Huntington’s school shooting protest have announced a change of location after storms blanketed the area in more than a foot of snow.

The March for Our Lives Long Island event scheduled for March 24 at Heckscher Park will be relocating across the street to Huntington Town Hall, according to student organizers. The event’s website read: “due to the severe winter storm and resulting bad grand conditions expected on Saturday the location of the event has changed.”

Huntington Town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said town officials had safety concerns regarding the use of Heckscher Park for the rally, due to large number of people attending, multiple entrances to the park and potentially muddy fields. By comparison, there are only two entrances to the town parking lot on Irwin and Jackson streets.

“The town supports the First Amendment rights of the students to assemble and speak their minds on this national matter,” she said on behalf of town officials.

The student organizers have filed the proper paperwork and received permits to host the rally on town property, according to Lembo.

The Huntington event is being held in conjunction with the Washington, D.C., march to show solidarity with the Parkland, Florida, shooting survivors and “demand that our lawmakers make gun reform a top priority to end this cycle of gun violence in our schools and our communities at large,” the organizers’ website reads. It will feature students speakers and local residents who lost loved ones in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Participants and those following the events are promoting use of the hashtag #NeverAgain. As of March 22, the event’s Facebook page shows more than 900 individuals are stating they will attend.

Are you attending Huntington’s March For Our Lives March 24? Tweet us @TBRNewsMedia with your thoughts and photos. 

Town of Huntington officials want to ensure that Italian-Americans can celebrate their culture with pride this Columbus Day weekend.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) made a vow to protect the Christopher Columbus statue overlooking  Huntington Village against a growing movement to remove what have been referred to as controversial historical monuments.

“The Town of Huntington took on the crusade of putting the statue here,” Petrone said. “We are not removing the statue. The town board feels very strongly about this; we are not removing it.”

Huntington’s Christopher Columbus statue has stood at the corner of Main Street and Lawrence Hill Road for more than 40 years. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington’s Columbus statue has stood at the corner of Main Street and Lawrence Hill Road for more than 40 years, according to Petrone. It was commissioned by Sam Albicocco, a Huntington resident of Italian-American heritage, and its costs were financed by contributions from local residents.

The supervisor said he felt it was necessary to make a public statement in wake of a growing movement at the national and state levels to remove public monuments to controversial historical figures, such as Confederate war leaders and Christopher Columbus.

In August, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) assembled a committee to consider possible removal of “symbols of hate” throughout the city, including statues of Christopher Columbus, as national debate raged over taking down Confederate monuments.

Shortly after the committee was announced, The New York Times reported the Christopher Columbus statue in Central Park was defaced with its hands stained by red paint and graffiti, which included the words “Hate will not be tolerated” on the pedestal.

“This is a political frenzy that’s been unleashed on the Italian community,” said Robert Ferrito, state president of the Sons of Italy. “It’s a frenzy of political correctness and a rewriting of history.”

Ferrito said his Italian-American fraternal organization is working with other organizations throughout the state to ensure that all monuments to Christopher Columbus are protected and the holiday remains unchanged.

“This is a political frenzy that’s been unleashed on the Italian community. It’s a frenzy of political correctness and a rewriting of history.”

— Rob Ferrito

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) recalled how his own father, an immigrant, was one of many Italian-Americans who faced strong discrimination during World War II and the years that followed and spoke of how it relates to the proposition of tearing down the statue.

“I was proud as a young boy to be an Italian-American,” Suozzi said. “We are going to make sure people realize Christopher Columbus gave so much to our country, just like Italian-Americans gave so much to our country, and we are not backing down.”

The announcement by Town officials comes on the eve of the annual Long Island Fall Festival in Heckscher Park, which is traditionally kicked off each year with a wreath laying at the Columbus statue.

“As anyone who has viewed the parade knows, it is not only about one man,
Christopher Columbus,” Petrone said. “It is about the millions of Long Islanders of Italian extraction who take pride in their heritage and their contributions to our town, our Island, our state and our country. Here in the Town of Huntington — a town that values diversity and inclusiveness, and, above all, history — we have no plans to cancel the parade. And we certainly have no plans to even consider taking down this statue.”

The wreath laying will be held Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. The town’s annual Columbus Day parade will be held on Oct. 8 starting at 12:30 p.m. and travel along the length of Main Street.

Petrone said that the town had not received any written objections to the parade or ceremony as of Oct. 1.

Owners will be required to keep companions on a leash

Stock photo at top; file photo above from Stephen Jimenez; photo at left by Sara-Megan Walsh Dog owners in the Town of Huntington can now walk their dogs on leashes in most parks. Stock photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

The dog days of summer are here as Huntington residents and their canine companions are now welcome to  enjoy a stroll in most local parks.

Huntington Town Board voted unanimously at their Aug. 15 meeting to amend town code to allow on-leash walking of dogs at town parks.

Dog owners in the Town of Huntington can now walk their dogs on leashes in most local parks, like those at Frazer Drive Park in Greenlawn. File photo from Stephen Jimenez

“It is the highlight of my day to take my dog for a long walk,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of the Huntington-based Long Island Dog Owners Group. “I don’t want to do it just in my neighborhood on the street, but I want to be able to walk my dog in a beautiful public park. It’s been frustrating over the years on Long Island as many towns don’t allow it.”

The town code changes now permit on-leash walking of dogs in town parks and trails on a leash that’s 4-to-6 feet in length.

Dog owners are required to immediately pick up and dispose of any waste. It will remain illegal for dog owners to bring their canine companions into the more developed areas of town parks: all playgrounds, picnic areas, courts and sports fields, campgrounds, near educational area programs and all town beaches with the exception of paved areas and boardwalks.

The exceptions to the new changes are that no dogs will be allowed at Huntington’s Heckscher Park or Centerport’s Betty Allen Twin Ponds Nature Park.

Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter said that based on recommendations made by the Huntington Greenway Trails Advisory Committee in a letter dated May 24, town board members excluded  Heckscher Park due to its continuous public events and the nature park due to  its primary use as a fishing site, as casting of lures could pose  safety risks.

A sign at Frazer Drive Park in Greenlawn tells visitors a list of rules for walking dogs in Huntington parks. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The decision to exclude Heckscher Park, one of the more widely used town parks, was not unanimous.

“We thought that Heckscher Park would greatly benefit from the presence of leashed dogs as it would deter the geese from fouling the grass there,” Munger Kahn said. “Unfortunately, the town was not ready to make that change yet.”

She pointed out that Northport Village had similar issues with a population of Canadian geese making a mess of Northport Village Park, which based on her personal experience has been largely resolved by allowing on-leash canines and their companions to stroll the grounds.

“We hope that once the policy is put into effect and proven successful that we will be able to revisit the issue with the town,” Munger Kahn said.

The push for changes to Huntington’s park regulations started as a request made by the trails committee in early 2016 for uniform park standards.

“It was kind of crazy to have some parks in the Town of Huntington allow on-leash dogs and the vast majority of town-owned parks not to allow dogs on a leash,” Munger Kahn said. “This was confusing to people. The thought was if we adopted standards, a policy more closely aligned with Suffolk County’s policy, it would make enforcement easier.”

The town co-owns 10 parks with Suffolk County, including Knolls Park, Hilaire Woods Park, Fuchs Pond Preserve, Paumanok Wetlands Preserve, Elwood-Greenlawn Woods, Breezy Park and Lewis Oliver Farm. Under county code, licensed dogs were permitted on trails in all county parks on a leash not more than 6 feet in length. The new laws approved by Huntington now fall more in line with the county code.

‘Orange Flame’ by Richard Dolce, last year’s first-place winner in the Tulip Festival’s photography contest. Photo from Town of Huntington

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a Tulip Festival? The natural beauty of the historic Heckscher Park will once again serve as the backdrop for the Town of Huntington’s highly anticipated signature spring tradition this Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now in its 17th year, the event was the brainchild of Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D).

“The 17th Annual Huntington Tulip Festival is a free event that has something for the whole family to enjoy. There is live entertainment throughout the afternoon on the Chapin Rainbow Stage, booths with hands-on activities for children and thousands of colorful tulips throughout the park,” said Cuthbertson, adding, “So please stop by Heckscher Park and enjoy the festivities.”

Janice Bruckner will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 2 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

In addition to the festivities, the Heckscher Museum of Art will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering a special reduced pricing of $2 per person (members and children under 10 free!). Docents will be in the galleries leading tours beginning at 2 p.m. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions Thaddeus Holownia: Walden Revisited, Earth Muse: Art and the Environment and The Art of Narrative: Timeless Tales and Visual Vignettes.

Since its inception, Huntington’s Tulip Festival has also included an annual photo contest. Entries by amateur and professional photographers will be juried to select the images most evocative of the beauty and family orientation of the festival and must be postmarked or received by July 31. Prize-winning images will be used in festival publicity.

Entertainment schedule

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ­— Student Art Contest. Building up to the festival was an art contest for area students organized by the Huntington Arts Council. Award-winning work will be displayed near the Rainbow Chapin Stage.

Noon to 4 p.m. — Springtime Is for the Birds Art Workshop. Feathers will fly when children of all ages are invited to create colorful, mixed-media birds to celebrate spring on the terrace of the Heckscher Museum. In the event of inclement weather, activities will take place in the museum.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. — Children’s Music with Mike Soloway. Soloway is a teacher and performer of children’s music residing in Huntington. His children’s recordings include the “Moving With Mike” series, the “Preschool Action Song” series in addition to the albums “Hungry for Manners” and “School Bus Songs.”

Inkarayku will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 1 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

1 to 1:45 p.m. — Inkarayku: Journey Through the Andes. An interactive children’s concert, Journey through the Andes takes children on a musical journey through the Andes Mountains, starting in northern Ecuador and ending in Bolivia. The concert features a storytelling narrative, singing along games and group dancing. Inkarayku members use large floor maps, theatrical costumes and props to transport youngsters to another time and place, giving them a one of kind educational experience.

2 to 3 p.m. — Songs & Puppetry with Janice Buckner. Buckner is one of the nation’s top performing artists for children. She tours nationally and has appeared on radio and television, as well as over 4,000 schools and concert halls. Buckner entertains audiences of all ages with her voice, guitars, puppets and her knowledge of Sign Language for the Deaf. She is noted for her voice, her creativity and the outstanding quality of her lyrics.

4 p.m. — Festival Closes. Museum exhibits on view until 5 p.m.

For more information regarding the Tulip Festival or if you would like to volunteer for the day, please call 631-351-3099.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) hosted Huntington Town’s annual Eggstravaganza event on Thursday, March 24 at Heckscher Park. Kids from all over town came to hang out with the Easter Bunny, hunt for eggs, get their faces painted, and color. The town also collected food donations from all participants for the local food pantry.

Huntington Town celebrated fall this weekend at the annual Long Island Fall Festival. The event, free to the public, is organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and spans Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. Festivities include a carnival, food courts, entertainment, vendors, animals and more.