On June 9 there will be a vote on the South Portland school budget at the South Portland Community Center. There will be a couple of citizen-initiated petitions you may be asked to sign when you go to cast your vote. One of them is to ban access for people who walk their dogs on Willard Beach for six months a year – access residents have enjoyed for years. During the winter months all dogs would be on-leash if this referendum passes.
The South Portland Dog Owners Group strongly opposes this referendum. The existing ordinance allows residents to access the beach with their dogs from 7-9 am and 7-9 pm. Just four hours a day when the beach is less congested. This is very similar access to what other towns allow on their public beaches.
Since March, the Dog Owners Group has spent many hours at the entrance of Willard Beach this spring promoting safety, respect and sharing the beach with everyone who chooses to use it. There have been very few complaints this spring called into the Police Department, and they were only about people bringing their dogs to the beach outside permitted hours (a $100 fine for the first offense).
Our group will be at the Community Center to present our side of the issue and to provide information for the public. Before you make a decision to sign a petition that would ban us from this public beach, please stop by and talk to us.
Crystal Goodrich, president
South Portland Dog Owners Group