A city parks committee last week recommended a ban on dogs and other pets at city athletic fields and playgrounds while also urging officials to create more spaces where dogs can run free.
The committee’s three-part recommendation also calls for the use of non-retractable leashes of up to 6 feet in areas where dogs and other pets are required to be kept on leashes, such as in city parks or along greenway trails.
The city’s parks advisory board is expected to vote on whether to recommend the changes to the City Council in September.
City parks officials say they were prompted to look into the issue after dealing with issues ranging from dog droppings on Little League fields to collisions between bicyclists and dogs on long leashes and hearing residents’ concerns about interactions between dogs and small children on playgrounds.
A handful of neighbors turned out to comment on the recommendation, with most opposed to it. They said the changes would make it harder for dogs to get proper exercise and make the area a less desirable place to live, because there are so few places where dogs can be off-leash.
“Dogs are a really big part of the fabric of this community,” David Lipton said.
But Gail Wiesner told the board she supports the changes.
“Nothing here is hurting any dog owners,” she said. “It is helping us all to be good neighbors.”
The advisory board’s members said little about the recommendation that indicated whether they would support it.
Several residents suggested that the city expand the number of dog parks or other areas where dogs can run free before enacting the stricter rules. However, no funding is available to construct the two dog parks included in the city’s master plan.
The committee also offered several suggestions beyond the formal recommendation. They said the city should increase fines and penalties against those who violate the city’s pet policies and increase the number of staff members in the Animal Control Unit of the police department.