Dog days may be coming for Darien’s beaches
DARIEN — A pilot winter program to bring dogs to the beach may be in the works.
“Discussions about it was ignited by quite a few residents asking about a potential program during the winter,” said Pamela Gery, director of the Parks and Recreations Department.
The pilot program would be for Weed Beach and run until March 31, allowing residents to bring leashed dogs to the beach.
“Its common with other towns that it starts Oct. 1 and runs until March 31,” Gery said.
The program could potentially start as early as Dec. 1 in Darien, she said. However, the proposal for the program will first have to be reviewed and agreed upon by the Parks and Recreation Commission. Members will discuss and hear from the public at their next meeting.
As it stands now, dogs are not allowed at the beach at any time. Residents who break this rule are ticketed $49, according to the town animal control officer.
Gery said many surrounding towns have similar rules in place — Fairfield, Greenwich and Westport all allow dogs on their beaches during the winter.
“Fairfield even allows horses and dogs on their beach,” she said.
Gery said there was previous discussions in 2011 around this topic. The Parks and Recreation Commission at the time tried to find an appropriate middle ground to appease residents in favor and against the idea.
The resolution was to allow dogs off leash Monday through Friday from dawn to 10:30 a.m. at Tilley Pond Park. However, with the recent inquiries from residents, the discussions have been brought back to the beaches.
“The townspeople are passionate about their dogs,” she said.
One of the issues that deterred these conversations previously were worries of people not picking up after their dogs.
An initiative that could help the potential pilot program is seeing residents show an effort to police themselves.
“We have many incredible friends groups in town,” Gery said. “We have Friends of Tilley Pond Park, Friends of Selleck’s Woods. They really are very important to the town.”
If this is something residents really want, forming a similar group to ensure people pick up after their pets could go a long way, she said. This could provide an incentive for residents to work with the town to keep the beach clean.
“Perhaps you have to not only be responsible for your own dog,” Gery said. “You may have to be responsible for all dogs before you leave.”
For now, both the commission and department want to gather as much information as they can to help shape the program.
“This is an attempt to have a conversation,” she said. “Obviously we want to be mindful of the town and all residents and how they feel about these things.”