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City lifts parks pooch prohibition

July 23, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Dogs on leashes will be allowed on the fringes of two Hagerstown parks starting in late September under an ordinance introduced Tuesday by the Hagerstown City Council.

The council approved the ordinance's introduction by a 4-0 vote with no discussion. Mayor William M. Breichner was not at Tuesday's meeting and Councilman Lewis Metzner served as acting mayor and did not vote.

The council is scheduled to vote on adoption of the ordinance at its Aug. 26 meeting.

Under the proposal's one-year trial period, dogs would be allowed on roads and sidewalks bordering Hagerstown City Park, on the walking track bordering Fairgrounds Park and along the perimeter of the park, City Administrative Services Director John Budesky said. The dogs would have to be on leashes no longer than 6 feet, Budesky said.

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No dogs would be allowed in the central areas of either park.

The goal is to find a way to meet the interests of responsible dog owners while keeping in mind that some people are scared of dogs, Budesky said.

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.

Questions about the rule prohibiting dogs in the parks arose after Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said at a June meeting that for safety reasons he sometimes walks his dog on City Park land.

The ordinance would carry a fine of $50 per infraction for dog owners who walk their pets in nonpermitted parks and locations, those who do not responsibly clean up after their dogs and those who walk their dogs off the leash.

Before 1983, the Hagerstown Parks Board had the authority to prohibit activity in the parks and the police enforced park board rules, including the prohibition of dogs, Breichner has said. In 1983, the park board became an advisory body and some of its authority was lost.

The City of Hagerstown's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board discussed the issue at its June 19 meeting and expressed support for allowing dogs in some parts of the parks.

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