The dog days of summer probably aren’t coming to a beach near you.
Two-and-a-half months ago, LBK9 Committee Chairwoman Laurin Goldner presented the citizens group’s paper about issues associated with allowing dogs on the beach. Four of seven commissioners gave consent to move the report forward for workshop discussion.
Since then, however, dogs and their owners have been quiet on the issue at Longboat Key Town Hall.
Meanwhile, six out of seven commissioners have indicated they’re unlikely to support canine beach access. That means that even if a workshop discussion were to occur, dogs are unlikely to get their day at the beach.
At a Feb. 7 Longbeach Village Association candidate forum, Mayor Jim Brown and commissioners Terry Gans and Phill Younger each indicated they were unlikely to support allowing dogs beach access, citing concerns about dividing the community.
Their challengers, Larry Grossman, Gene Jaleski and Irwin Pastor, also opposed the idea, citing concerns about whether dog owners would pick up after their pets, along with potential impacts on birds and sea turtles.
The Longboat Observer polled the remaining four commissioners about where they currently stand on dogs on the beach.
Vice Mayor David Brenner said he would like voters to decide on the issue.
“I think we ought to put a proposal in front of voters because it seems to be so controversial, and the next time we have a ballot, go up or down. I could see it allowed on a controlled portion of the beach,” he said.
But he’s alone in the pack.
Commissioner Jack Duncan said that he is against dog beach access.
“If we could truly enforce it and manage it, I would be for it. But we can’t enforce it now, let alone if we allow it in a specific area,” he said.
Commissioner Lynn Larson said if she were to agree to any form of dog beach access, it would be a trial period for leashed dogs at Quick Point, where there are no homes. But she, too, thinks allowing dogs on the beach is currently too controversial.
Commissioner Pat Zunz said that many Gulf-front condominiums prohibit residents from owning dogs in their bylaws.
“If they don’t allow people who own units to have dogs in their bylaws, I would have difficulty allowing dogs on the beach nearby,” she said.
Goldner declined to comment on whether she wants the commission to discuss the report at a future workshop, saying only:
“It’s in the town’s hands at this point.”
“I don’t think there would be problems here with people picking up after their pets, but I’m not willing to divide the community over it. I don’t like the idea of a dog park because it would concentrate it, so I’ll give up my right to have my dogs on the beach,” — Mayor Jim Brown, at the Longbeach Village Association forum
“I feel it’s very controversial, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for dogs to be on the beach. It would be problematic whether people would actually pick up after the dogs … If we were to do anything, I think it would be a trial at Quick Point … I’ve talked to people who oppose dogs on the beach who have said they would have no problem with that.” — Commissioner Lynn Larson
“Most of the condos that are on Gulf of Mexico Drive don’t allow their owners or their tenants to have dogs, so, to me, that’s one of the primary issues. If they don’t allow people who own units to have dogs in their bylaws, I would have difficulty allowing dogs on the beach nearby.” — Commissioner Pat Zunz
“I think we ought to put a proposal in front of voters because it seems to be so controversial, and the next time we have a ballot, go up or down. I could see it allowed on a controlled portion of the beach.” — Vice Mayor David Brenner
“In my view, if you allow dogs on the beach, even in a specific area, people will be bringing their dogs on the beach everywhere. Issues multiply with beach cleanup, dog feces, turtles and the birds. If we could truly enforce it and manage it, I would be for it. But we can’t enforce it now, let alone if we allow it in a specific area.” — Commissioner Jack Duncan
“In a wonderful dream world, dogs romping on the beach is nice, but it’s not something we need right now.” — Commissioner Terry Gans, at the Longbeach Village Association forum
“There are pet-friendly beaches in Manatee County and Bird Key, nearby … This is a very divisive situation, and the overwhelming sentiment is to not have dogs on the beach. I respect that.” — Commissioner Phill Younger, at the Longbeach Village Association forum