Di Vincenzo: We are past the “educating the public stage.” There are people who will comply with the leash and pick up rules and those who won’t.

Submitted by Frank Di Vincenzo, Cos Cob, Board Member of Parks & Rec

The recent proposals to extend dog access and chop off part of Greenwich Point beach for additional months is a further assault on the sensitive ecosystem of a peninsula that is teetering on becoming a common park and not the beauty of a natural preserve. 

Greenwich Point and the beach itself is relatively small. It’s home to dozens of species of wildlife that nest and migrate on their way south and on their way north. Over the years it has been slowly diminished by human activity. There was a time when Greenwich Point was shut down for the winter to give it a chance to recover and when dogs were not allowed.

Dog feces and urine on the beach and around the Point pollutes the sand and the shellfish beds. Furthermore, when unsuspecting mothers bring their toddlers to the beach, they drop their blankets over the un-picked up poop and latent urine peed everywhere.  We are past the “educating the public stage”. There are people who will comply with the leash and pick up rules and those who won’t.

According to the Ct Post, 75% of dogs in Connecticut are not registered. Darien, Weston, Westport, Monroe, and Redding have some of the highest rates of dog registration up to 90% while Greenwich is listed at 23%. That means that 77% of dogs in Greenwich are not registered and therefore, we have no way of knowing if they’ve been inoculated for rabies, distemper, hepatitis and many other diseases:  When dogs run free: Fewer owners licensing their canines (ctpost.com) 

Enforcement of leash and pick up statutes are weak. According to the Greenwich Free Press article of April 8,2021 in part….”then Assistant Director of Parks & Rec Tom Greco said he and Sergeant Thorme had mapped out a space for dogs on the beach and even appeared before the health department, but that the police hadn’t been willing to provide enforcement.” Indeed, enforcement is what we need just for the present four-month window, December to the end of March.  Cutting off the beach and allowing dogs to run free above and below the mean high-water mark will invite dogs to spill over to the restricted side. After all, both sides of the proposed fence below the mean high-water mark are not covered by town laws.

To say that dogs have been down there for years, and it has worked very well is an overstatement. It hasn’t worked well. A post on March 2, 2021, by Ms. Mary Williamson on the Nextdoor Neighbor Site “Titled Dog Poop”, elicited dozens of commentaries about Greenwich Point and other parks that weren’t exactly complimentary. Using words like “disgusting’, ‘Dogs should not be allowed at Greenwich Point” and many more.

Lastly, to be sure I like dogs and I had one when I was growing up. But I like nature and wildlife and I like to feel that I’m in a clean and safe environment as well. We struck a balance years ago and bringing up the issue again is unfair.  A similar proposal was voted on by the Board of Parks and Recreation of which I was a participant, and it was voted down 7-2. Why are we debating this again?

Submitted by Frank Di Vincenzo, Cos Cob, Board Member of Parks & Rec