Your dog’s dream of a legal off-leash romp within the Rochester city limits could soon be realized. City officials are looking at a couple of sites to pilot a dog park program beginning in late spring or early summer. The possible sites are the Washington Grove area of Cobbs Hill Park, and a large chunk of land on Norton Street in northeast Rochester.
And City Council will consider legislation this month to change the city code to allow dogs to be off-leash in designated areas.
City Council member Matt Haag has been scouting sites with Chris Fitzgerald, the city’s director of animal services; Norman Jones, commissioner of environmental services; Mitch Rowe, director of buildings and parks; and other officials.
Young professionals and empty nesters are increasingly choosing to live in urban environments, Haag says, and a dog park is an expectation for many. It may even play a role in where
they live, he says. The decision to include a rooftop dog park in Tower280 downtown, the former Midtown Tower, is evidence of that trend, Haag says. Tower280’s apartments are also pet-friendly.
City officials are weighing factors including size, shade, parking, and proximity to homes in evaluating locations, he says, and the pilot program will probably last about six months. It hasn’t been decided whether the pilot will take place in more than one location, Haag says.
Officials have looked at other area dog parks for guidance, he says, including the parks run by Monroe County. The county has off-leash dog parks in Ellison and Greece Canal parks. Dogs must be registered members of Monroe County Dog Parks, which costs about $25 per dog annually. For that, you get a code to access the park and a tag for your dog.
The parks are self-policing, which means that the county does not staff the park. And you have to clean up after your pup yourself, though the county does provide poop bags.