The committee’s focus is dogs, but citizens on the Dog Beach Feasibility Committee shouldn’t be dogmatic in their approach to studying the issue of dogs on the beach. That was the message commissioners had when discussions at the Nov. 7 Longboat Key Town Commission regular meeting turned to a suggestion of allowing dogs on the beach.
“I would hope that the members of this committee can be open-minded,” Mayor Jim Brown said. “If you know that you hate this idea or you know that you love this idea right now, you shouldn’t be on this committee.”
But, for now, the committee won’t have commission involvement.
A resolution vote on an ordinance to form the committee was on the agenda for the meeting. But the commission didn’t move forward with the motion after Commissioner Lynn Larson suggested that residents Laurin Goldner, who has advocated the idea, and Cyndi Seamon, a Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteer who is concerned about the idea, have worked well together and could form a citizens committee without commission involvement. The committee could then report back to the commission.
“I think it would probably be better for the commission to leave them alone and let them report back with recommendations,” said Larson, who had initially agreed to serve on the committee along with Commissioner Pat Zunz.
But, before they moved on from the ordinance, commissioners discussed its vague wording.
Commissioner Jack Duncan said that the ordinance didn’t state whether dogs could be allowed on the entire beach or whether they would have to be leashed.
Commissioner Hal Lenobel also thought it needed clarification.
“I find this very vague. I just can’t make heads or tails out of this,” he said, drawing laughter. “Did anyone get that?”
Larson said that discussions are currently focused on allowing leashed dogs on a small part of the beach, likely for only a few hours per day.
Goldner said Tuesday afternoon that she and Seamon are still working to put together a committee that, ideally, would have five to seven members, along with input from groups such as the Audubon Society, Mote Marine Laboratory and Longboat Key Turtle Watch, along with the public. Goldner said that the committee hopes to focus on factual information, rather than emotional issues associated with allowing dogs on the beach.
“Hopefully by the end of the week, we will have a group of people willing to have a balanced discussion,” she said.