Four options from the city’s parks commission were presented to council during a work session March 13. Council’s favored option is a plan to implement time restrictions.
The parks commission took up the topic after it was initially discussed by City Council in February.
“Most people who want to walk their dogs do it early or do it later,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. ”I don't think it's in the best interest of the dog necessarily to be sitting on the beach during the hottest part of the day, whether you have an umbrella or not."
The parks commission’s recommendation would limit the time that leashed dogs could be on City Beach, south of the buoys, to mornings before 10 and evenings after 6. All dogs would be prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“This may be the best options that’s out there at this time,” McCaleb said.
Other options discussed include making no changes to the current rules, shrinking and shifting the portion of City Beach by 95 feet to the north where leashed dogs are allowed in order for them to be closer to the designated swimming area, and prohibiting all dogs from the beach during the summer.
Councilman Bob Monetza also said the time restriction option is worth a try, and noted that he is not a fan of restrictions to geographic areas of the beach.
"I think trying to set a geographic boundary and expecting people to recognize it and obey it is not going to work," he said ”The time of day has at least a chance to be enforced, and there's logic to that, as well."
Councilman Mike Fritz, who also noted that he favors the time restrictions, said the city needs to continue to keep up with beach rule enforcement — including watching out for people who might make a mess of it. He said there is human refuse left on the beach, in addition to animal waste.
“My wife is an avid beachgoer, and she's seen them bury diapers in the ground and whatever else,” Fritz said. “It's not just the dog feces and everything they’re talking about.
“When we have our beach cleanup, you can see the garbage that we pick up that people leave behind,” he added. “It's unbelievable.”
City Council has yet to nail down any firm time limitations or confirm the changes to the dog beach rules.
Current rules stipulate that when the swim buoys are in place, dogs are prohibited from City Beach in the area where the swim buoys are present, about 520 yards from the Grand Haven State Park/City Beach border south. Leashed dogs are currently permitted in a 1,300-foot area extending south of the southernmost swim buoy toward to the city/township border.