Village News

The rocks are gone, the dogs are happy


There’s a new surface at the Valley Stream Dog Park, and canine owners couldn’t be happier.

The park opened in early May to rave reviews, but people quickly soured on the facility when they realized that their dogs didn’t like the large-pebble surface. The rocks are still there, but have been covered by artificial turf. On Oct. 1, the resurfaced large-dog area reopened, and the small-dog area was finished a few days later.

Anita Ferguson, of Valley Stream, brought her dog, Killer, a Rottweiler-Labrador mix, to the park the day it reopened, where he was joined by several other dogs. “He loved it,” Ferguson said. “He was bouncing and running so fast. The new surface is so springy.”

Ferguson was one of the few people to regularly bring her dog to the park before it was resurfaced, because the rocks didn’t bother Killer, she said. But with other people staying away, her dog had no four-legged playmates. Ferguson said that canine socialization is one of the biggest appeals of an off-leash dog park. And, she added, despite her dog’s name, Killer is very friendly.

The village spent $20,000 on the new surface, but Friends of the Valley Stream Dog Park will pay that back over the next several years. The surface would have cost more, but the village purchased turf remnants left over from other projects, so there are stripes of blue, yellow and green turf in the park.

Richard Infield, president of the Friends group, said it can now begin to host fundraising events at the park, which wasn’t an option with the old surface. Infield said he believes that with the artificial turf in place, the park’s popularity will now grow. “What’s important to me is what everybody else’s thoughts are, and the feedback has been incredible,” he said. “Nobody has complained. I think we got it.”

The day before the park reopened, members of the Friends group brought their dogs to give it a test run, and everyone gave their approval. Group member Mike Powers summed up his thoughts simply. “It’s great,” he said.

Village Clerk Bob Barra said he is already getting good feedback on the new surface, and added that he has seen more dogs use the park at one time in the past week than he did all summer.

The new surface will require some basic maintenance by the village. It must be regularly washed down and disinfected. Barra said he is not concerned about bacteria from dog urine because the turf is porous, as are the crushed concrete and pebbles underneath.

“It’s not a solid surface, so it does drain,” Infield said, adding that the Friends group will also do its part to keep the surface clean.

Barra said he believes the $20,000 outlay by the village was worthwhile because if officials hadn’t acted, the park would have sat virtually unused. “Now we have a great facility with, I think, the best surface around for dogs,” he said. “I would put this up now against any dog park anywhere.”

The Friends group will host a grand reopening celebration on Oct. 27. The event will include registration information, raffles, vendors, pet rescue groups and a Halloween costume contest for dogs.

Infield said his goal is to get dog owners from throughout Valley Stream to sign up to use the park. The cost is $18 a year for village residents, and $55 for Central High School District dog owners. Infield said he believes the price is worth it for an off-leash dog facility close to home.

He explained that many people gave the dog park a try with the old surface, and he now wants them to give it a try with the artificial turf. “We got people to come,” he said. “They came once and never came again because it wasn’t good for their dogs. We’ve go to get those people back.”