On June 9 there will be a vote on the South Portland school budget at the South Portland Community Center. There will be a couple of citizen-initiated petitions you may be asked to sign when you go to cast your vote. One of them is to ban access of people who walk their dogs on Willard Beach for six months a year, access residents have enjoyed for years. During the winter months all dogs would be on-leash if this referendum passes.

The South Portland Dog Owners Group strongly opposes this referendum language. The ordinance currently in place allows residents to access the beach with their dogs from 7-9 a.m. and 7-9 p.m. – just four hours a day, when the beach is less congested. This is very similar access to what other towns allow on their public beaches.

Since March the Dog Owners Group has spent many hours at the entrance of Willard Beach promoting safety, respect and sharing the beach with everyone who chooses to use it. There have been very few problems with access by dog owners to this public beach.

The Dog Owners Group is a group of community members who highly value our access to this public open space. We organize cleanups, work with other community organizations, promote dog-owner responsibility, and we respect the spaces we access.

Our group will be at the Community Center to present our side of the issue and to provide information for the public. Before you make a decision to sign the petition, please stop by and talk to us. An educated decision is the best one you can make when endorsing or choosing not to endorse a referendum item to be placed on a ballot.

Crystal Goodrich

South Portland

Dog Owners Group

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