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Sharon Health Board OKs Seasonal Ban of Animals From Beach

Dog dropping data at beach to be collected over the next three weeks, which could lead to the ban being rescinded.

Citing concerns about people being exposed to dog feces in the sand, the Sharon Board of Health voted 3-2 Monday night to implement a seasonal ban of animals -- primarily affecting dogs -- from Veteran's Memorial Park and Beach and the fenced area of Community Center Beach in three weeks.

The catch: Sharon will track the amount of dog feces on the site over those three weeks, and the board will rescind the ban if the results warrant it.

Chairman Suzi Peck and members Jay Schwab and Stanley Rosen voted for the ban, which takes the form of a health board regulation. Members Andrew Stead and Edward Welch voted against it.

The vote did not specify the calendar parameters of the ban, including its official start date. However, the board voted on a version of a proposal it discussed last Tuesday night, with new language from Rosen. Last week's discussion included talk of having the ban from April 15 to Oct. 15.

After Monday night's vote, Town Administrator Benjamin Puritz said he would ask Animal Control Officer Diane Malcolmson to walk the beach daily and photograph and report dog feces she sees. Recreation or public works staff would remove it, he said.

Peck said data on the presence of dog feces would give the board "additional credibility" if it shows a ban is warranted.

"If we find out we've got a lot of poop, then the board of health is going to be completely justified," Peck said.

The vote came after Puritz and Selectman Richard Powell discussed with the board a proposed health board regulation amendment from Town Counsel Richard Gelerman.

The proposal, Gelerman wrote, sought "to reach a coordinated effort" among the health board; the selectmen, as Sharon's park commissioners; and the conservation commission, regarding "controlling dogs at Memorial Park."

Both the health and conservation boards have discussed the issue since a majority of voters at the May 7 annual town meeting rejected a proposed dog ban at Veteran's Memorial Park Beach.

The conservation commission has invited selectmen, as the park commissioners, to its meeting Thursday night. The commission says selectmen implemented the current dog access policy for the beach nearly two years ago without the commission's required review.

That policy, adopted on Aug. 17, 2010 for the Beach Street site, states: dogs are prohibited from the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day while the beach is staffed, or open for a public event, the policy states. Dogs are restricted to the path, and leashed, at all other times, the policy states.

Powell called Gelerman's proposal sought to deal with "almost like a mini constitutional crisis in town as to who's got jurisdiction" and "at the same time, support the vote at town meeting."

Selectmen haven't heard complaints about dog droppings on the beach, Powell said.

Schwab reiterated his support for a year-round ban, which he proposed recently.

Puritz said it would be "probably more effective" to improve signage and to make more pick-up gloves available to the public.

But, Conservation Commission Administrator Gregory Meister encouraged the health board members "to do their job and protect the public."

"If I had a pool and I saw poop on the deck of my pool, I'd probably have a problem with it," Meister said.

 

Sharon Patch may update this story later today.

Michael Gelbwasser June 05, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Hi Suzi, Thank you for your comments. However, the story's first paragraph says the ban won't start for three weeks, not immediately. I don't recall hearing a specific effective date mentioned in the motion or immediately following the vote, which is why there's no reference to a June 25 start date. At the same time, the story does say, in the second paragraph, "Sharon will track the amount of dog feces on the site over those three weeks, and the board will rescind the ban if the results warrant it." That was clear last night: the board left the door open for the data to show that a ban isn't necessary in the opinion of the majority of its members.
Todd Arnold June 05, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Thank Suzi for the clarification..I just ran into "Someone" down at the boat docks who explained it as well as you have. The sad thing about it is that everyone should be upset at the dog owners not picking up after their pets......and that's the bottom line. I walked the beach early this mornin'..and once again found a newer group of Dog droppings...what I'm also seeing is ALOT of goose poop. There should be a bigger focus on ridding ourselves of the geese. Do the lights on the grassed area work.....? Ya..when the suns out and the batteries can get charged.....
philip June 05, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Thanks susan for the report on BOH meeting .
Todd Arnold June 05, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Kevin..numerous times I've mentioned the possibility that the change of policy enacted by the BOS might just been an out of order .....There was a dog ban in place for many many years prior to the change of policy.....so if you are a man of your word....and believe in what you preach here..then you might have to re-evaluate your stand based on your political perspective stated in so many threads...
Susan Peck June 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Sorry, I missed that in your article..

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