Pilot program approved for dogs on Weed Beach

DARIEN — For a few months out of the year, residents will be able to enjoy the beach with their dogs.

The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 7-1 on Nov. 28 to initiate a pilot winter program to allow dogs on Weed Beach. Commission member Lorene Bora was the sole vote against the program.

“I just think dogs doing their business in the sand, picked up or not, I just personally find gross,” Bora said. “I’m going to be walking barefoot, digging in the sand with my grandchild. ... It just grosses me out.”

Parks and Recreation Director Pam Gery said if residents want to see the program continue, they must work together to help enforce the rules.

“I have been asking people if they would be willing to be on a small dog committee,” Gery said. “They’ve been very supportive of that.”

With the pilot program, leashed or unleashed dogs will be allowed in a designated area to the far left of the Weed Beach Concession stand and bathrooms. The program will run from December until March 31. The town will provide doggy waste bags, but dog owners are also encouraged to bring their own.

“We have purchased a small picket fence that will be installed soon,” Gery said.

The designated area will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The commission chose these times to avoid conflict with early morning traffic or students leaving school.

Commission member Susan Daly said she was slightly concerned with the unknown element of allowing dogs on Weed Beach.

“When we did Cherry Lawn, it was so easy because dog were already there, we just restricted them,” Daly said. “Now we’re moving to a space where dogs have never been.”

To monitor the program, the commission agreed to revisit the issue at their monthly meetings, and members have the power to rescind the program before its official end date if it is found rules are not being followed.

Commission member Amy Doering said her only concern was the enforcement of the policies, adding there had only been one ticket given in seven years to a dog owner, despite talks of residents breaking the rules previously.

“I just want to know if we do this program there will be a backbone to it,” she said.

However, commission member Michael Sgroe said the success of the program is about more than just the commission’s enforcement.

“This is going to work if the community makes it work,” Sgroe said. “It’s a privilege.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568