Finally, a place for the dogs

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Mangano attended the opening with his wife, Linda, and their dachshund puppies, Max and Rocco. “They’re thrilled to be here today,” he said of his four-legged companions. “We’re here to recognize and thank all those who made today possible. It’s a very active park, and this is what it’s all about — a place to bring your dogs, to socialize and have a good time.”

“The biggest problem is finding the right location, and I think this is it,” said Norma Gonsalves, the County Legislature’s deputy presiding officer and an East Meadow resident. While her children took the family dogs as they moved out, she explained, she is still a dog lover. “This is something good that we waited for — maybe longer than we wanted to, but it happened anyway,” Gonsalves added. “I have a feeling it’s going to be the envy of the others.”

Helen Meittinis, president of the Community Association of Stewart Avenue, who also attended the grand opening, admitted that she is allergic to dogs, but gamely added, “My community is really excited, so I am, too. Hopefully this will entice residents not to illegally walk their dogs.”

Meittinis recalled that the park was previously a baseball field, but then sat, unused, its space wasted, for nearly seven years.

Michael Rubertone, who moved to Salisbury last year, had been looking forward to bringing Ginger, his 2-year-old cocker spaniel, to the park. “We’ve been waiting patiently … well, Ginger hasn’t been so relaxed,” Rubertone said. “We’re so happy it’s close to us, and we’ll be using it often.”

In addition to the dozen LI-DOG volunteers who ensured that dashing dogs didn’t accidently escape as others wandered in and out, vendors provided free dog food samples and the North Shore Animal League, Bobby and the Strays and Yorkie 911 encouraged people to adopt rescue pets.

Other dog parks in Nassau County include Bay Park in East Rockaway, Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn-North Hills, Cedar Creek Park in Seaford, Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach, Old Bethpage Restoration in Old Bethpage, Wantagh Park in Wantagh and Village Green in Valley Stream.

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