“Why My Kids Are Afraid of Riverside Park,” Written by an Anonymous Neighbor

The person who submitted this has asked to remain anonymous. The content has been lightly edited for purposes of grammar and clarity. Feel free to leave a comment below, but please keep it civil.

Riverside park is truly a hidden gem in the city. While Central Park serves tourists and locals, Riverside is reserved more for west side New Yorkers. Despite some rise in crime, the park remains a family favorite, with some outdated playgrounds scattered along the way.

But my children, 4 and 7 year olds, shudder when I mention going to Riverside park.

We live on West End Ave and consider Riverside Park our backyard. However, many dog owners have recently been letting their dogs go leash-less in the park. Indeed, Riverside is fabulous for dogs as well, and has dog parks for them to run free in. Possibly because of the neighborhood feel, some owners feel more comfortable letting their dogs run free throughout the park, despite the clearly outlined rules about it.

My kids loved dogs, but a few weeks ago, one got free from its leash and chased my little one as she was on her scooter, almost causing her to fall and giving her great anxiety. Other dogs have barked and growled at my children as they pass by, sometimes to be friendly, but it’s nevertheless startling.

Most people follow the rules and keep their dogs leashed. But if you walk down any path in the morning, you’ll find multiple dogs running off leash. Sometimes, large groups of them take over areas that are not designed for dogs, though you’d think they were by the looks of it.

The other day, a huge dog jumped the gate to one of the Tot Lot playgrounds and ran free as children half its size played. My children no longer want to go to Riverside park. They are simply afraid.

From the looks of things, this “unleashed” behavior is coming from responsible dog owners. These are dog owners who clean up after their dogs, as opposed to many others on the streets of NY who clearly don’t. Maybe COVID has made everyone more lax about rules which feel trivial – or maybe these rules are simply no longer enforced as they once were. But I beg, for the sake of having a safe park for all, please follow the rules and leash your dogs.




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