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Feb 7, 2013 5:30 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Village Considers More Strictly Curbing Dogs On Beaches

Feb 12, 2013 3:06 PM

East Hampton Village is considering requiring that dogs be leashed on public beaches as well as extending the time when they are banned from them. At the end of a preliminary discussion on Thursday, Village Board members agreed that tighter restrictions were in order, although in what form was left unresolved for now.

At the moment, dogs are allowed on village beaches at all times except between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from the second Sunday in May until September 30. Board members noted that East Hampton Village and Town are more permissive than comparable towns and villages on Long Island, many of which ban dogs outright or at least all day in summer. In fact, said Trustee Richard Lawler, people from surrounding areas bring their dogs to our beaches.”

“I know the people who go to the beach to use it as a beach,” said Matt Norklun of East Hampton Village, who has complained about dogs on the beaches in the past, “and the people who go to the beach to use it as a toilet.”

He told the board he’d been attacked by dogs while running on the beach just the day before, adding “getting head-butted in the crotch, knocked to the ground” and being urinated on to a list of dog-related problems. “I don’t hate dogs; I’m an advocate of the beach,” Mr. Norklun said. “The majority of people don’t want dogs on the beach.”

Trustee Bruce Siska suggested further restricting dogs at least at Main Beach, pointing out that it’s been ranked among the country’s top five beaches. “I hate to see my 3-year-old grandchild sit down where a dog has been before,” Mr. Siska said.

Board member Barbara Borsack, however, said that banning dogs from one beach only “would send all the dog owners over to other beaches.” She and Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. suggested extending the daily period during which they are banned in summer to 8 or 9 p.m. to allow beach users to enjoy sunsets and evening picnics without disturbance.

“I’m not anti-dog; I’m a dog lover,” said Mr. Lawler. “I’m sad to have to say this, but I think the time has come to eliminate dogs from our beaches at least from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

Board member Elbert Edwards said he thought dogs also needed to be better controlled, adding that someone could be a mile down the beach and claim to be managing a dog’s behavior with a whistle. The village code does not specify how owners are expected to keep their dogs in check, which can make the law difficult to enforce, Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen told the board.

“I think to walk a dog on a leash at the beach, you might as well be in a parking lot,” said Jennifer Berkeley, an East Hampton Village resident who spoke on behalf of using education and signs as tools to encourage dog owners to comply with the restrictions already in place. Ms. Berkeley said pet owners seemed more careless in winter than in summer, when they want to avoid being “stared down.”

“The main thing is to have a dialog, how we can have good manners,” she said. “I would hate to see the easy decision: ban dogs on the beach.”

“It’s an ongoing problem,” Mayor Rickenbach said. “We’re going to try to grapple with it a little further.” A public hearing will be held before the current regulations are changed in any way.

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Because we don't have enough rules in the Village already
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Feb 7, 13 6:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
And if the dog swims?no fetch? Please get real..

By lo-cal (78), southampton on Feb 8, 13 3:42 AM
Give the beaches back to the people!!! (and the dogs) Stop regulating our beaches. Stop kicking us out of the parking lots after 9:00 because the mansion owners don't like the noise! Enough
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Feb 8, 13 9:56 AM