Parks & Rec Leash Policy Needs Additional Due Diligence & Compromise

DDOG Disappointed in Parks and Rec Special Meeting Outcome


June 20, 2011-- The Darien Parks and Recreation Commission dog leash policy, approved at the Commission’s June 16 public meeting, falls short of being the best solution for the community, according to the Darien Dog Owners’ Group (DDOG).


Darien resident and DDOG spokeswoman, Pam Zangrillo, said, “We are disappointed in the Commission’s decision.  There has been an absence of fact-based decision making and needs additional due diligence and compromise.”  Specifically:


·        Unintended Consequences:  The true impact of the new policy has not been vetted well enough.  Currently under the new system, an inordinate amount of traffic and usage is pushed to Cherry Lawn causing an unfair strain on that park’s assets and resources.  A multi-park solution with set hours is the best compromise for Darien.  The Diller property and Stonybrook Park are not adequate or viable options.


·        Disenfranchised stakeholders:  Under the new rules, people who work during the day, especially commuters, will no longer be able walk and exercise their dogs off leash in the park because of a lack of evening hours (7pm-dusk) or any early morning hours on the weekend (dawn-8:30am). 


·        Undemocratic decision:  The overly restrictive Woodland Park decision of on leash at all times fails to reflect the larger desire for compromise by the public as demonstrated overwhelmingly at the public hearing in May.  As the largest park in Darien’s portfolio, there is room to share Woodland Park’s 64 acres.


·        For All to Share:  Darien’s parks are taxpayer supported and should be available to be shared by all. The decision should be driven by the public’s desires, the consensus of all users, and data/statistics about who is using our parks and when. Designated morning and evening hours in Cherry Lawn and Woodland Park is the right compromise.


For details regarding the regulations, see the Darien Patch article: 

Parks & Rec Approves Basic Contours of Leash Policy

PLEASE write and call the Parks & Recreation Commission with your opinion.


Feel free to contact DDOG with any of your questions and thoughts.  


DDOG (Darien Dog Owners Group) is a group of dog owners committed to nurturing a positive environment between dogs, people, and public safety in Darien, CT. 


October 26

Darien Postpones Dog Leash Rules

by Casey Donahue10/26/10

Jennifer Zanim (left) and Maryann Freeman (right) both walk their dogs at Cherry Lawn Park.

Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

Darien dog owners do not have to worry about tying up their dogs quite yet. The Representative Town Meeting voted Monday night to table a proposed ordinance that would require dog owners to keep their pets on a leash in all public places.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," dog owner Maryann Freeman said of the proposed ordinance. She said she often brings her dog Holly to Cherry Lawn Park in the morning and lets her run around. "Most dogs that come here are very nice, and the owners are very conscientious of the dogs and their behavior."

At the RTM meeting, there was argument over the wording of the ordinance. There was also talk of the need for further public hearings, as well as a concrete plan to establish a dog park or off-leash hours at public parks. "There has not been a public hearing on this proposed ordinance, the wording of which was only decided minutes ago," said Jim Cameron from District IV.

Leash laws are clearly important to many Connecticut dog owners. There wastalk earlier this year of modifying Wilton's leash laws.  Darien resident Doug Hall said that he is for the proposed ordinance. "I'd like a leash law," he said as he walked his dog Lily at Cherry Lawn Park. "It's good if you have a small dog. The big dogs run wild, and make it really tough."

Other dog owners said they understand the desire for the law but think there should be some changes so that dogs can get off their leashes and have a chance to run. "It would be nice if they could dedicate a small area for the dogs to run around in," said Jennifer Zanim, who often takes her dog Duke to Cherry Lawn.

After much debate over the ordinance, as well as its wording and timing, the RTM voted 46 to 28, with one abstention, in favor of postponing the ordinance until March 21.

This article is from:

October 23

Darien Patch

Letter to the Editor: Reining in the Leash Law

A blanket leash law will produce dogs who are more likely to become belligerent, writes Amy Sarbinowski.

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To the editor:

We need your support for an amendment to the leash law, which will be voted on this Monday night, Oct. 25, at Town Hall. The law states that all dogs in Darien must be on leash at all times on all public properties, including Cherry Lawn and other town parks. Consider the following facts:  

  1. There have been no dog-on-people bites in Cherry Lawn or any other Darien park in the last 5 years.
  2. The majority of all dog-on-people bites over the last 7 years have occurred on private property or were dogs who escaped from private property.

And consider this: New York City allows dogs to be off-leash in Central Park from dawn until 9 a.m. Why? Because it is well known that dogs who socialize with both people and other dogs are less likely to be hostile. A blanket leash law will, ironically, produce dogs who are more likely to become belligerent. In addition, exercise is a vital component to a dog's well-being and disposition, and how can owners let their dogs run if we don't have a time and place to let them be off-leash?

Therefore, isn't it reasonable to give the dog community, who gather faithfully at Cherry Lawn every weekday morning already, a morning window to let dogs run free?  Our amendment to the leash law asks only this: Please allow dogs to be off-leash from dawn until 9 a.m. on weekday mornings at Cherry Lawn park.

We appreciate that there should be a leash law in town. But we do ask for a compromise, an amendment that allows for designated morning hours when dogs can be off-leash. Let's represent everyone in our community by finding the middle ground. Isn't that what democracy is about?


Amy Sarbinowski