The Waldoboro Board of Selectmen has voted to hold an open special town meeting on proposed changes to the town’s dog ordinance.
The open town meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 28 at 6 p.m.
Some of the proposed changes to the ordinance include prohibiting domestic animals from the Pine Street Landing, the rest area on Route 32, and Marine Park.
The proposal also includes amendments to violation procedures, authorizing the Waldoboro Police Department, in addition to the town’s animal control officer, to initiate prosecution for violations of the ordinance.
Discussion on the dog ordinance was precipitated by a presentation from Waldoboro Shellfish Committee Co-chair Glen Melvin during a March 8 meeting of the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen.
Melvin’s comments in early March highlighted the risk to the Medomak River posed by pollutants, including dog waste.
According to Melvin, the area of the Medomak River in Waldoboro known as Tom’s Shore was closed to digging, an area of the clam flats by the town landing has been closed due to pollution, and another digging area referred to as the West Side is one bad test away from closing.
Melvin emphasized the economic importance of the Medomak River, and has reiterated in past meetings that the body of water is a source of employment for roughly 150 people and was the source of $2 million in revenue last year. During the selectmen’s meeting on April 12, he expressed frustration about the timeliness of the town’s response and said he felt the matter had been shunned in favor of workshops on the town’s budget, citing an email from the town manager.
“I feel like this needed more priority than it was given,” Melvin said.
Selectman Jann Minzy said the police were dispatched to the town landing and the public works department took action as soon as they found out about the issue with dog waste at the town landing.
“Behind the scenes we have been working and we will try and take care of things,” Minzy said.
Prior to Melvin’s and Minzy’s comments, Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs spoke on the work done by the town to address the concerns raised during the early March meeting of the selectmen.
“The largest issue that consumed my time over the past few weeks is the one we are discussing tonight,” Briggs said.
Briggs said her administration has been criticized for not taking action when this issue was raised in early March and she wanted to assure the town’s residents the issue has consumed many hours of administration time.
She listed creating a flier to bring awareness of effects of dog waste on the river, increasing patrols of the police department and animal control officer in public areas, and the proposed language changes to the town’s dog ordinance as some of the relevant work done to address the public’s concerns.