Yarmouth beach now a no-dog zone in summer
YARMOUTH — Dogs are now banned from Sandy Point Beach during the summer.
The Town Council, citing environmental and health hazards, voted unanimously Dec. 20 to prohibit dogs on the Cousins Island beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
"We fear for the children," said David Adams, member of the parks and lands committee, which drafted the ordinance change. "There's too many things in dog feces, all the parasites and worms. We don't think the beach can be purified by the tide."
Previously, there were no restrictions on dogs at the beach.
Community Services Director Marcia Noyes, who works with the committee, said there are "constant complaints" from beach-goers about dog owners not cleaning up after their pets on the beach. The summer ban is consistent with bans at other beaches in Cumberland County, she said.
"There's other places for dogs to go," Noyes said, noting there is access to a sandy beach through Camp Soci, also on Cousins Island. "We felt Memorial Day to Labor Day was the most reasonable and enforceable."
Three residents expressed opposition to the ban. One of them, Sam Mangino, described himself as an "avid dog lover."
"It would be an extreme change to just go ahead and change something that's been around in this town for a long time – especially since we pay for a (dog) license in this town," Mangino said. "To say from pretty much the whole summer to not be able to take your dog to a beautiful place, it just doesn't seem realistic. That's just taking away so much from people in the community."
Magino suggested a compromise, such as a setting restricted hours during the day, instead of a seasonal ban.
Michelle Cromarty echoed Mangino's concerns and said Sandy Point Beach is one of the reasons her family moved from New Hampshire to Yarmouth.
"To have it be totally off limits seems totally Draconian to me," she said. "Let's try something for a year and see if it works."
Councilor Leslie Hyde said she understood the opposition to the ban, but believes the environmental concerns are paramount.
"The environmental impact is what makes this entirely different for me," she said. "The biggest issue for me is not to penalize dogs, but to protect the environment."
Although Councilor Andrew Kittredge voted for the ban, he said the length of the seasonal ban could be shortened.
"Who goes swimming on Memorial Day in Maine?," Kittredge asked.
Other councilors, including Councilor James MacLeod, said they had not received any comment on the ban before the Thursday meeting.
"I have relied on the fact that the committee has done its work and I'll listen to their recommendation," MacLeod said.