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Buffalo News,   May 20, 2002  by Harold McNeil

      There may not be a consensus on the Amherst Town Board to designate an area for unleashed dogs in Amherst State Park.

       But one Town Board member plans to gauge support for establishing a fenced-in "doggie run" somewhere in the town.

       "I think it's time we did something like this," Council Member William L. Kindel said Friday. "I really didn't know so many people cared about this."

       Kindel was referring to the large number of dog owners who showed up last Monday at a public hearing on the draft master plan for Amherst State Park. They sought either a designated or fenced-in area of the park where dogs would be allowed to roam unleashed.

       Kindel said he was unsure if the 85-acre Amherst State Park off Mill Street was the ideal site for such a facility but said there is clearly a need. The animals would have to be licensed, accompanied by their owners and have all their shots, he said.

       "We tried to do this a year ago in the Audubon new community, but it failed to win support. The area that was proposed was a wooded area right behind the Amherst Police Department," said Kindel.

       He said he plans a Town Hall meeting within the next 30 days for dog owners willing to work on a proposal to establish a fenced-in area for unleashed dogs.

       The venue "has got to be large enough to accomplish what we want," said Kindel. "We can't have dogs running loose (in Amherst State Park). That would not be satisfactory for anyone, and we do have a leash law in the town."

       Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick said neither an open designated area nor fenced-in doggie run would be appropriate for Amherst State Park.

       "The beauty of the park is its absolute openness. Putting up a fence would compromise the integrity of the openness of the park," Grelick said.

       She also noted that the park is the site of affordable senior citizen housing and a nursing home.

       "We have a lot of elderly residents who would be using the park, and they might feel intimidated by the dogs," Grelick added.

       "Nature View Park, with 1,260 acres in the northern part of the town, might be more appropriate for a fenced-in dog park," she said.

       That's an idea that would not be supported by Council Member Daniel J. Ward.

       "We're trying to preserve (Nature View Park) in an even more pristine state than Amherst State Park," said Ward.

       He said that while the idea of exploring another venue might have some merit, he remains concerned about potential liability for the town.

       "What if one dog attacks another or attacks a person? The town will always get hooked into this if (a dog run) is allowed and a raft of litigation will follow," Ward said.

       Council Member Shelly C. Schratz agreed that Amherst State Park was not an appropriate venue for a dog run.

       "The state park is way too much of an investment to be used for that purpose," Schratz said.

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