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Parks group suggests loosening no-dog rule

June 20, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Thursday made plans to recommend to the Hagerstown City Council that dogs on leashes be permitted on the perimeters of two city parks for a trial period of a year.

John Budesky, the city's director of administrative services, said that under the proposal, which would be made in early July to the City Council, dogs being walked on six-foot leashes would be allowed on roads and sidewalks bordering Hagerstown City Park, on the walking track bordering Fairgrounds Park, and off to the perimeters of the park. No dogs would be allowed within the core area of either park, he said.

The advisory group also plans to propose an ordinance that would carry a fine of $50 for anyone not using a leash in the permitted areas of the parks, walking in prohibited areas of either park or walking a dog in a park other than on the perimeters of City Park or Fairgrounds Park, Budesky said.

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"For us to make this project successful we have to work with responsible dog owners," Budesky said.

Advisory board members said they would like to review the project after the trial year to see if revisions need to be made or if other parks could be added to the list parks that allow dogs.

As part of future revisions, the advisory board discussed forcing dog walkers to formally register their pets with the city, creating arm bands to identify walkers and their dogs or creating an enclosed area out of existing fencing where dogs could roam freely under their owners' supervision.

The board tossed around the idea of creating leash-free areas in both parks, but the idea was dismissed due to fears about dogs running to children, getting hit by cars or leaving messes that others using those areas might be forced to clean up.

Although the city has a rule that no dogs are allowed in its parks, Budesky said no enforceable law exists to keep dog walkers from using them. With the proposed ordinance, the city would have a way of better protecting its citizens, he said.

Before 1983, the Hagers-town Parks Board had the authority to prohibit activity in the parks and the police enforced board-imposed rules there, Mayor William M. Breichner has said. In 1983 some of those powers were removed when the board became an advisory body, he has said.

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