Rehoboth committee evaluating dog park options

Rehoboth Beach offers residents and guests many amenities, but the city’s animal issues committee has decided to look into one it doesn’t have – a dog park or dog run.

Commissioner Tim Bennett, chairing the committee for the first time since taking office, brought the issue forward during a March 29 meeting. He began by recognizing that the idea of ​​a dog park or dog run had been rejected by the committee in the past because of limited space. However, he said he was bringing it back for discussion because it’s been done successfully in other communities.

It’s a subject that gets brought up to him over and over, said Bennett. People want to know where they can go with their dogs, he said.

Rehoboth does have rules in place related to dogs: It is illegal for dogs to run at large at any time; the city has both leash and pooper scooper laws, which are enforced; and dogs are prohibited from the beach and Boardwalk between May 1 and Sept. 30.

Committee member Marcia Maldeis was also a member when the idea was rejected 10 years ago. The committee looked all over to find a suitable location before making its recommendation, she said, adding that the dog park in Lewes, called Lewes Unleashed, is outside city limits and the city has nothing to do with it.

Committee member Deb Ward said dog parks are typically fenced off and separated, with signage to keep kids away. There would have to be guidelines put in place, she said, suggesting the Lake Gerar area.

Maldeis said Lake Gerar had been considered in the past, but concerns were raised about animal waste polluting the lake, so it was removed from consideration.

Ward said she doubted the waste created would be any worse than the resident geese who call the lake home.

Committee member Terry Smith said there are already two places in the city being used as secret dog parks – the fields at Rehoboth Elementary and the beach area near Prospect Street. The people with their dogs think that’s why it’s called Poodle Beach, he said.

Prospect Street resident Enid Lagree said she’s a member of the dog park near Lewes, which is a due-paying, privately run entity with a locked gate that’s only accessible by using a keyfob. It has 4 1/2 acres and a stable population of dogs that use it, she said.

Generally speaking, dog parks are a problem, and any of the reasons it was rejected 10 years ago have only gotten worse, said Lagree.

New Castle Street resident Carolyn Diefenderfer said she’s one of the dog owners who lets their dogs run around at the school when nobody is there. It would be nice to have a gated place where dogs can go and run, she said.

There was discussion about allowing dogs on the beach in the morning, similar to how Dewey Beach does it, but concerns were raised about enforcement and city liability.

In the end, Ward and fellow committee member Cheryl Crowe were designated to explore the city and come up with suggestions for the rest of the committee to consider.

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