Lakewood OH

Dogs allowed in municipal parks starting May 1

By Kevin Kelley
Fairview Park

By a 6-0 vote March 20, Fairview Park City Council members passed an ordinance that will allow dogs to join their owners in the suburb’s parks.

The new law will not go into effect until May 1.

“This will allow the residents and the city departments to become familiar with this ordinance and to make any preparations necessary for the rules specified in the ordinance,” Ward 4 Councilman John Hinkel explained at the meeting. “The anticipated effective date is the first of May, and I’m pointing out that is right at the beginning of late spring and early summer. It’s nice timing.”

The ordinance passed after the customary three readings to allow residents to comment on the proposal.

The new ordinance requires that dogs be kept 30 feet away from playground equipment to prevent dogs from approaching children who may be afraid of the animals. The dogs are also restricted from coming within 30 feet of the splash pad and pavilion area at Morton Park and 30 feet from athletic fields when in use.

The ordinance also requires dog owners or walkers to:

• keep the dog on a leash that extends no longer than six feet;

• yield to other pedestrians on walking paths; and,

• clean up waste from the dog and place it in the receptacles provided.

Violations of the ordinance will be considered minor misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $150.

Commenting on Facebook, some residents questioned the regulation that the leash be no more than six feet. Many dog owners use retractable leashes, also called “flexi-leashes,” which allow variable leash lengths, they noted.

Hinkel said council members decided to hold firm on the six feet of leash length, at least for now.

“We’re open to revisiting things,” Hinkel told West Life, but he said council was satisfied with passing the ordinance as introduced Feb. 20.

Council members spent a considerable amount of time debating the issue of allowing dogs in the city’s parks, Hinkel noted. The legislative body, led by Council Clerk Liz Westbrooks, researched laws in cities that allow dogs to enter parks, Hinkel added.

The new law overturns an ordinance passed in 2005 by a 4-3 vote that kept dogs out of all parks, not only Bain and Bohlken parks.

Council took up the issue again in the spring of 2015 after a resident wrote council members requesting the law be overturned. At that time, council members with whom West Life spoke were hesitant about reversing the ban. The concern was that while most pet owners will be responsible when it comes to cleaning up, a few will not be.

A 2015 survey by the city’s Recreation Department completed by about 1,000 residents found respondents split nearly 50-50 on the issue. Thirty-nine percent said they were not even aware of the ordinance banning dogs in parks.

After periodic discussions, council members were about to remove the issue from its committee agenda in the fall of 2016 without repealing the ban, but some residents against the ban again spoke up.

At a council meeting in October, more than a dozen residents attended a City Council meeting asking members to repeal the dog ban.

Mayor Eileen Patton was in favor of reversing the ban.



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