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Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Dogs took to Park Avenue's brick roadway during Winter Park's seventh annual Doggie Art Festival, which flooded the street with booths from artists in April.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010 9 years ago

Dogs not banned

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Commission to discuss dogs on Aug. 9
by: Isaac Babcock Managing Editor

Dogs won the day at Monday's Winter Park City Commission meeting, as the Commission voted that canines can continue to roam in Kraft Azalea Garden, Mead Garden and Dinky Dock Park.

On a 4-1 vote, the Commission voted down an ordinance change that would have banned dogs from those parks, as well as adding in restrictions to other areas.

But the Commission's not done with dog talks just yet. It will discuss at its Aug. 9 meeting city staff's recommendations for animal ordinance changes, including prohibiting animals from streets adjacent to Central Park during special events in the park.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Blair Culpepper had recommended the original ban go through to protect parks, though he said that Winter Park should welcome pets.

"I think we all agree that we want Winter Park to be animal-friendly," Culpepper said.

Friends of Fleet Peeples Park legal adviser Joseph Brock applauded the decision to nix the ban, after protesting it earlier in the meeting. He had also chided the Commission for considering changing plans for a trail leading around the city's dog park.

"I'm really dismayed that we're pretending like this wasn't already decided," Brock said.

The vote against the ordinance banning dogs from more of Winter Park's parks came after months of planning, board meetings and staff investigation into the matter, leading Mayor Ken Bradley to plead for finality.

"I just want to say: At what point do we give this up?" Bradley asked, mentioning a looming city budget that has yet to be finalized for 2011. "Ultimately we've got to get a budget out that's approved and balanced."

But talks of restricting dogs will continue, after a last-minute move by the Commission to schedule a discussion on Aug. 9. Plans for a new ordinance may become more detailed at that point, Commissioner Beth Dillaha said.

Commissioner Phil Anderson recommended that the Commission consider more specific rules to keep dogs out of certain areas of parks, rather than blanket bans from entire parks.

"There are many areas of Mead Garden that need to be protected," Anderson said. "If there are areas that should exclude dogs, we should consider that. People can't walk all over the beach when turtles are hatching. If there's something a bit more surgical, a bit more timely, I think we should do that."

Dillaha agreed.

"Mead Garden is a conservation wildlife area, and dogs are not typically compatible with wildlife areas," she said. "Maybe there is a solution for conservation, rather than putting a blanket on dogs altogether."

Commissioner Tom McMacken disagreed that dogs pose a danger to the conservation areas in Mead Garden, saying it's inaccessible to dogs.

"I don't think there's a whole lot of people who walk their dogs in wetland areas because you're knee deep in muck," he said. "I'd have left out Kraft Azalea and Mead gardens from the ban."

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said that she might be in favor of banning dogs for certain events or during certain times of the year.

"Even if I'm not ready to say no dogs in Mead Gardens … I'm willing to say … domestic animals may periodically be restricted," she said.

The Commission will discuss their ideas publicly at the next Commission meeting.

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