Cumberland seeks input on Twin Brook dog rules

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CUMBERLAND — In the wake of the Town Council’s July 14 approval of an ordinance governing where and when dogs can be off-leash on public lands, the town has launched a survey about use of one of its busiest parks.

The council heard many questions about the lack of data during its deliberations on the dog rules, Town Manager Bill Shane said last week via email. The survey to collect data is available on and at Town Hall. Staff will also collect surveys from Twin Brook users.

The survey, which will likely conclude next month, asks for names, community of residence, whether the respondent brings a dog to Twin Brook, what their experience with dogs there has been, whether they use other town trails, and how often, what time of day and the reason they visit the park.

One concern expressed at last week’s meeting was the inferior condition of trails on the Greely Road side of Twin Brook, versus the Tuttle Road end. The town will focus in the next two years on bringing the Greely side’s quality up to that of Tuttle Road, Shane said.

The ordinance the Town Council approved echoed a resident’s proposal that dogs be allowed off-leash half the day on some public lands, while they would have to be leashed on others. It would provide people options for letting their dogs run off-leash, or for avoiding off-leash dogs altogether.

All dogs must be leashed in the morning on the Greely Road side of Twin Brook, and be within voice command in the afternoon, from March 1 to Dec. 1.

Voice control is allowed on the Tuttle Road side of Twin Brook in the morning, while leashes are required in the afternoon from March 1 to Dec. 1. No dogs are allowed there from Dec. 2 to Feb. 28, so that groomed ski trails can be maintained.

Dogs also must be leashed at the Town Forest in the morning, and at the seven-acre West Cumberland athletic complex and playground at all times.

Voice command is always permitted at the Rines Forest, and from Dec. 2 to Feb. 28 at the Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center; dogs are prohibited from Val Halla the rest of the year, during golf season.

During the time of year they are allowed at Twin Brook, dogs have to be on leashes during organized activities on the Tuttle Road side, and from March 1 to Dec. 1 on the Greely Road side. Voice control is allowed at the Greely Road side from Dec. 2 to Feb. 28.

Regardless whether a leash law is in place or voice command is allowed, no more than three dogs are allowed with any one person at any time.

Several residents expressed concerns at the July 14 meeting that the rules are too restrictive.

“I’m a little worried that we’re doing too much legislating here … to solve problems that we could have already solved with the policy that we had in place,” resident Daniel Kany said. “… I don’t see a problem that we couldn’t solve by just educating the public. A little bit of signage would go a long way, (as would) a little bit of communication.”

The town ordered signs July 15 that detail the rules at each public land, and they could be up by July 25, Shane said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.