2017-05-05 / Community

News Briefs

BARK BACK – While one resident has claimed canine use of the Kennebunk shoreline by dogs is “out of control,” a new group has risen to the defense of man’s best friend.

At the March 28 selectmen’s meeting, Surf Lane resident Gary John Fumicello asked that hours when dogs are allowed on public beaches be more severely restricted or, even more to his liking, that their presence be banned completely.

“I’m kind of in awe as to why we are allowing an unleashed, unmanned dog park in a public area,” he said of the beaches. “That’s what it is, an unmanned dog park in a public area. The town in my opinion is one bite, or one old person being knocked down, from a massive lawsuit.”

Currently, dogs are no allowed on public beached between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., from June 15 until Labor Day. When on the beach, must be under “voice control” if not on a leash. However, Fumicello said that right up until the 9 a.m. cutoff, he sees “hundreds of dogs” running free.

Fumicello, a local chef, said he is concerned about sanitary conditions as well as safety.

“At 9:05 we are allowing the public to go down there and sit, swim, play, and bathe in this sand that has been urinated in all morning. People are using this pubic beach as a public toilet rather than cleaning up their own yards.”

According to Town Clerk Merton Brown, Fumicello is scheduled to make a presentation for greater dog restrictions at the May 10 meeting of the town’s dog advisory committee. That meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of town hall.

Before that, however, Fumicello will speak May 9 to the ordinance subcommittee of the board of selectmen. Town Manager Mike Pardue said that meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the board meeting room.

During both sessions, Fumicello is likely to have an audience, and experience rebuttals to his proposal.

At the selectboard’s April 25 meeting Dr. Greg Leach said a new citizen action group has been formed to fight for the canine status quo. Calling itself, “Keep the pooches on Gooch’s,” the group is not looking to shout down Fumicello, Leach said.

“We just want to represent a mindful and thoughtful discussion within the community,” Leach said. “We will work to promote civil discourse, as well as civil engagement on the beach so we can peacefully cohabit. We’d like to open up a dialogue with others members of our community who are looking to restrict that previously engaged policy and practice allowing us to walk our pups on the beach.”

SHIP SHAPE – The Town of Kennebunk has received another successful review by the Maine Department of Labor, resulting in its designation as a SHAPE (Safety and Health Award for Public Employers) community.

According to Town Manager Michael Pardue, the SHAPE designation is given to public sector employers “who maintain an exemplary safety and health management system.”

“Acceptance into SHAPE by the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards is an achievement that distinguishes organizations as a model for workplace safety and health,” Pardue wrote in an April 11 agenda memo to selectmen.

“There are very few towns in Maine that are fully SHAPE compliant and we should be pleased that Kennebunk is one of them,” Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe said at the April 11 board meeting. “This is quite an accomplishment.”

Of nearly 500 municipalities in Maine — including 432 towns, 23 cities, and 34 plantations — only 42 have some level of SHAPE recognition, and only 10, including Kennebunk, have passed the safety inspection in all municipal departments, Rowe said.

Pardue said being “fully SHAPE compliant” results in a 4 percent discount on the town’s insurance rates, saving Kennebunk “about $8,000” per year.

“It achieves us $8,000, and we probably spend that in upgrades that we do, but we have a better and safer community because of it,” Rowe said.

DONATION – Kennebunk Selectman Blake Baldwin has donated video lighting, security equipment and set-up assistance valued at $150 to the Kennebunk Community Garden Committee through his business Video Creations.

Baldwin’s fellow selectmen formally accepted the gift at their April 11 meeting, noting that it came in response to vandalism that has taken place at the West Kennebunk gardens, located at the end of Holland Road, on land leased from the Animal Welfare Society.

In a Nov. 7 post to its Facebook page, the garden group said, “One of the entire windows at the West Kennebunk Community Garden shed has been kicked in and destroyed. We have been dealing with a lot of small vandalism this fall. A number of tomato cages, cucumber ladders and personal garden sculptures have been stolen.

“Then two weeks ago a window at the West Kennebunk shed was broken. Each time we have filed a report with the Kennebunk Police. Today we again reported the incident. We have decided to board up the shed windows until the spring time. The vintage windows were originally donated by the Old House Parts Company and may be hard to replace. This is very discouraging.”

– Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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