Wednesday, October 5, 2011

County Commissioners Approve Dog Friendly Beach, Stadium Improvements

At Tuesday's commission meeting, Brevard County Commissioners approved a dog friendly beach at Canova Beach Park, and capital improvements for Space Coast Stadium.

Dog Friendly Beach

Instead of changing the County Ordinance, the Brevard County Board of Commissioners approved 4-1 for a one-year pilot program to allow dogs on the beach at Canova Beach Park. 

The dogs must be leashed and only present during park operating hours from dawn to dusk and only two dogs per owner are allowed.

Several residents came out to the meeting to speak in favor and against a dog friendly beach.

Representing Sandy Paws, Rockledge resident Barbara Arnold asked that the County Commission change the ordinance for Canova beach because it is centrally located.  She also stated that Sandy Paws received over 4,000 signatures in support of a dog beach.

Melbourne Beach resident Robert Dwyer came out against a dog beach, he cited The Florida Department of Health statistics that children ages 1-9 are at greatest risk for dog bites.  He also expressed concern that children running on the beach would be a natural target for dogs.

Satellite Beach resident John Ferguson has three large dogs and supports a dog beach.  He was quick to point out that there are irresponsible as well responsible dog owners who would keep their dogs on a leash and clean up their pet's waste.

Attorney Christ Martin represented Ocean Walk Condominiums which neighbors Canova Beach Park.  His main arguments were that 1. People would be at risk for dog bites; 2. Poor sanitary conditions of the beach because children play in the sand that would be saturated with dog waste; and 3.  Dogs would be a hazard to sea turtle nests.

Martin also cited a 2003 letter written by Margaret Canova, last surviving family member of the Canova family, who was against turning Canova Beach Park into a dog beach in 2003.

Commissioner Andy Anderson rebutted Martin, saying that you can't walk anywhere on a sidewalk in Brevard County without passing a dog, so the safety issue argument due to exposure dogs is flawed in logic.

Melbourne dog owner Helen Voltz said that dogs pee more than they poop.  She is concerned about the high concentration of urine in the sand from so many dogs going to one location.  She suggested that a dog beach should be a pilot program to see if it works.

Commissioner Anderson said that people are going to take their dogs to the beach anyway.

The pilot program duration was made for 1 year to allow for all seasons.

Commissioner Chuck Nelson said that dog beaches that are successful have one thing in common, no residents near the beach.   He believes that it is a bad location, especially because of the narrow strip of beach at Canova Beach Park.  Therefore, he will vote against Canova Park becoming a dog beach.

Improvements To Space Coast Stadium

The Brevard County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved $325,000 from the tourist development tax revenue for capital improvements for the Space Coast Stadium despite the ambiguity of whether the Washington Nationals will stay in the stadium.


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