Sitka’s dogs will have their day after all.
The Sitka assembly last night (11-6-12) tabled a controversial ordinance banning dogs from Moller Park and the Kimsham complex, and will likely scrap it altogether.
Instead, they plan to bring forward a revised law that leaves dogs – and their owners – in the mix.
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First off, this is not leave to take your dog out on Sitka’s new, $2.6-million artificial turf baseball diamond at Moller. That facility will remain forever off-limits to pets, and the fine for violations will likely run to $300.
The pet owners who appeared before the assembly Tuesday night, and who worked with the Parks & Rec Committee over the past couple of weeks, were not asking for the world. They want a deal that makes one of the Kimsham fields “dog friendly.”
Michelle Kennedy owns a couple of Great Danes. She says the options for exercising her pets are limited.
“I want you to know that the ballfield is the only place my dogs can run off leash. They are always leashed – always.”
Kenley Jackson also testified as a dog owner. She said she was one of a conscientious group of dog owners who not only exercised their pets at Kimsham, but also took an interest in caring for all the fields. Kenley said her group was willing to formalize this arrangement.
“We had signed a petition that I hope you folks had seen about having one field designated as dog-friendly. And the agreement that we would like to propose is that we would be responsible as a user group for also taking care of the trash at the other fields.”
Forty-two residents have signed the petition in support of this bargain.
Parks & Rec signed off on the proposal at its last meeting. Assembly member Michelle Putz helped craft the language. She said dog owners were willing to extend the general dog ban beyond Moller, in exchange for the one field at Kimsham.
“The ball fields at Keet Gooshi Heen, Vilandre, Baranof, upper and lower Moller, the island, and also to ban dogs on all the playgrounds. So it expands substantially the places where dogs would not be allowed, but in addition, the group suggested that any field could be considered for group sponsorship and subsequent designation as a dog-use area. So if you found another group that was willing to sign on, they could potentially open up another spot for dog use.”
The dog owners proposed that the first field on the left at Kimsham become the dog-friendly field.
Putz planned to have language for a new ordinance ready by the assembly’s next meeting on November 27. The assembly agreed to table the original dog ban – which has already passed on first reading – and shoot it down at that time.