New dog restrictions OK'd at City Beach

Alex Doty • Apr 27, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Beachgoers will see new rules this summer for dogs at Grand Haven City Beach.

The new policy narrowly approved by City Council on Monday night prohibits dogs on City Beach between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It was approved 3-2, with councilmen Josh Brugger and Mike Fritz voting against the measure.

City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city has tried to come up with ways to balance the issue of dogs and people on the beach, and noted the latest decision is a new approach for the issue.

“It’s a little outside of the box, but it’s following up on City Council’s discussion on this issue, and discussions at the (city’s) Parks & Recreation Board,” he said.

To help enforce the rules, the city plans to install two signs at each end of the beach — one at the state park border and one at the city/township border, as well as at least 15 signs along Harbor Drive and in the City Beach parking lot. There will also be several temporary signs.

Mayor Geri McCaleb said the new rules are a good compromise solution after discussing different options for implementing new dog rules earlier this year.

“We’re trying to alleviate as much conflict as we can,” she said.

A proposal brought up by City Council in February would have modified the space that dogs were allowed on the beach. Based on the earlier proposal, leashed dogs would’ve only been allowed in a 675-foot space between a cut in the dune grass along Harbor Drive and Grand Avenue. From Grand Avenue south to the city/township line, no dogs would’ve been allowed while swim buoys were present.

At a meeting in March, council narrowed down options presented by the city’s parks commission to limit the time of day that dogs would be allowed on the beach.

“To me, it’s the best option that we have that we’ve talked about,” McCaleb said of the new rules.

Councilman Bob Monetza said the new rules will be easier for the city to enforce. He also said it is all about finding the right mix of rules that appeals to everyone.

“I think we have to balance the conflict in some manner, and I think this is a fair way to do it,” Monetza said. “There’s always going to be people on both sides that aren’t happy.”

Brugger, however, noted that he was a fan of one of the original concepts to modify the area in which dogs were allowed at City Beach. He was concerned that having the entire beach open to canines could lead to an increase in problems such as dog waste.

“I think (the other idea) is absolutely brilliant, and the Parks & Rec Board was spot on,” he said.

Brugger also said he didn’t think the city had done a thorough enough job in the past to sign and mark the beach to let people know of existing rules.

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