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Date of Issue: October 22, 2008

BB commission pursues dogs on path

Bradenton Beach city commissioners agreed last week that as they update an ordinance on beach activity, they want to allow dogs on the multi-use path running.

The commission met Oct. 16 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., to take up a lengthy agenda, including the first reading of an ordinance amending the city regulation of public beach activity.

City attorney Ricinda Perry and Police Chief Sam Speciale presented the ordinance as a plan to match the city’s beach rules with the county’s beach rules. Coquina and Cortez beaches are in Bradenton Beach and policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department, but the county parks and recreation department maintains and manages the sites.

Speciale said he wanted to meet with county officials and propose that both jurisdictions set beach hours from 6 a.m. to midnight. County signs state that the beaches are open from sunrise to sunset, while the city has specific beach hours.

A discussion on hours, however, turned to the issue of whether to include in the revised ordinance the commission’s interest in allowing dogs on the multi-use trail along the beach.

The city and the county have been in conflict over dogs on the path.

The city commission voted in late March to draft a letter to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners asking the county to ease the restriction for the trail.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce was the lone dissent.

Pierce also voted against the motion last week, which was to approve the first reading of the ordinance updating beach rules and pursuing a course that allows leashed dogs on the multi-use path.

Commissioners John Chappie, Janie Robertson, Bob Connors and John Shaughnessy voted for the motion.

“To me it’s a code-enforcement or law-enforcement issue,” Chappie said, regarding concerns about pet problems on the path.

Chappie, who will be sworn in as a county commissioner next month, said the city ordinance could allow dogs and, if the county wants to enforce a ban, “they should let the lifeguards do it.… I’m sticking with what the intent was.”

Speciale said he would raise the issue during a meeting with county officials.