Dogs denied their day in Lebo park

Published Sep 12, 2013 at 9:36 am (Updated Sep 12, 2013 at 9:36 am)

The Mt. Lebanon commission failed to approve a pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Williamsburg Park at its Sept. 10 meeting.

A tie vote failed to carry the motion. Commissioners Kelly Fraasch and Dave Brumfield voted yes, while Kristen Linfante and John Bendel stood opposed. Matt Kluck was absent, which led to the 2-2 tie.

Residents in Brumfield’s Ward Four had been at odds over the issue since January. He proposed the 90-day pilot program as a compromise. It would have allowed dog owners to walk their pets in designated areas before nine o’clock in the morning and after dark.

Residents opposed to the program had raised concerns regarding sanitation, enforcement and child safety.

“Almost everyone who is against this is a parent,” resident Bruce Perry said prior to the vote. “We don’t allow dogs in schools. We don’t allow them on athletic fields. No one is denied use of the park. Just leave your dog at home.”

Another resident, Clint Kelly, presented the commission with a petition signed by 130 Ward Four residents supporting the program. He accused opponents of obtaining signatures from non-residents for their own petitions, as well as misrepresenting dog owners’ wishes.

“People who support walking dogs on leashes in the park have no intention of allowing it to become a dog run, or to let dogs run without leashes,” he said.

Commissioners Bendel and Linfante both commented on their perspectives prior to casting their no votes.

“I don’t know how we will measure success here,” Bendel said. “I believe what we’re really voting on here is a change to the ordinance. I also believe it will open other parks up to the divisiveness this issue has created.”

Commissioner Linfante added she did not feel the compromise would solve the problem of the now-divided neighborhood around Williamsburg Park.

She also expressed concern over certain residents’ statements that they already walk dogs in defiance of the ordinance and will continue to do so regardless of the commission’s decision. “That’s a bit like saying if people are speeding we should raise the speed limit so they will no longer be breaking the law,” she said.

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