ROCKLAND, Maine — Canine-related issues will be front and center for the City Council as it will consider multiple proposals on Sept. 3 to both increase or restrict dog access to city property.
The city has been wrestling with the messy issue of dog waste for much of the summer. Snow Marine Park has been closed since July 10 when high levels of E. coli bacteria were found in the park. While a considerable amount of dog droppings were cleaned up, tests later showed that the E. coli problem was due to human waste, likely from inadequate sewer lines.
On Wednesday evening, councilors will consider a request by one resident to create a dog park. Another citizen is recommending that the Council create a registration system for people who want to have their dogs use Snow Marine Park.
Also, City Manager Tom Luttrell is proposing an ordinance change to ban dogs at Jaycee Park and the adjacent Kenniston Field off Old County Road from May 1 through Nov. 1.
In addition, the manager’s proposal would extend the dog ban at Johnson Memorial Park, Sandy Beach, Merritt Park Playground, Ocean Street Playground and Warren Street Playground that now runs from May 1 through Oct. 1. His proposal would extend the ban to Nov. 1.
Local businesswoman and resident Suzanne Ward has asked the Council to support the creation of a committee that would establish a formal dog park in the city. A park for dogs has been discussed in Rockland since 2009.
“I suspect we’re all in agreement that the time has come to create an enclosed, safe place for people to exercise and socialize their dogs in Rockland,” Ward told the council in a letter.
Ward said a dog park would reduce the problem of people walking their dogs off leash and that the exercise would mean those dogs would be less likely to bark excessively and create nuisances for neighbors.
She said that a dog park also would be an additional attraction for visitors.
Ward is asking the council to help her identify suitable locations in the city and for a councilor to serve on the committee that she would like to see begin meeting in September.
And Kathryn Fogg, a former general assistance director for the city, said the city should open up Snow Marine Park to dogs but do so with a registration system. She said people could register their dogs at city hall for a small fee, $5 or $10, and they would get a bright orange tag that would need to be shown for them to have their dogs at the park. She said if people from outside Rockland wanted to use the park, they would have to buy the tags too.