Meeting set on Baxter Woods uses, rules

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PORTLAND — Current conditions and future uses of Baxter Woods will be open for discussion at a 6 p.m. public meeting Wednesday, May 28, at Wilde Chapel at Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue.

City officials will outline the history of the 30-acre preserve donated to the city almost 70 years ago by former Maine Gov. Percival P. Baxter, in memory of his father, former Mayor James P. Baxter.

City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said Tuesday in a news release the discussion will focus in part on needs of multiple park users and a review of current ordinances governing dogs and “voice control.”

The preserve was specifically deeded to the city “for public recreational and educational purposes,” and is one of more than a dozen city parks where dogs are allowed to be off leash.

However, the dogs must be under voice control, defined by the city as a dog that “returns immediately to and remains by the side of the owner in response to the owner’s verbal command.”

Earlier this spring, city Parks and Forestry Operations Manager Jeff Tarling and city Parks and Cemeteries Manager Joseph Dumais suggested they might approach the City Council to institute leash requirements in Baxter Woods because of complaints about unruly dogs.

Lincoln Middle School science teacher Robin Lea has repeatedly complained student field studies are disrupted by off leash dogs and marred by owners who do not clean up after their pets.

Failing to clean up pet waste on city property is punishable by a $250 fine.

Grondin also said the hemlock wooly adelgid was discovered in the woods this winter by students at nearby Catherine MacAuley High School. The insect poses a threat to the health of hemlock trees in the woods.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.