People who walk their dog on the Niantic Bay Boardwalk will now be faced with a $50 fine.
While the rule to not allow dogs isn’t new, the East Lyme Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday night to enforce a fine if someone is caught not following the rules.
“(Dog owners) just let the dogs run and do their business and they just keep walking like it’s invisible,” said Arnold Kaplan of Bozrah, who walks the boardwalk.
Those in favor of the new fine call the space narrow, dangerous if a dog acts up, and blame owners for not picking up after their pet.
“It’s meant for people,” said Americus Vicari, a resident of Niantic.
“You have people in wheelchairs, crutches, runners. So if you have dogs on there, it would almost be like a cage match,” said Paul Kramm, who also lives Niantic.
Also new is a $50 charge if people bring their dog on town-owned beaches and to McCook Point Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The rule however, was also already in place.
“I totally feel like I’m being restricted. It’s a really fun place for the dogs to be and they love seeing each other,” said Cheryl Whipple of East Lyme.
While Whipple understands why dogs could be a hazard on beaches in the summer, she calls the $50 fine steep.
“If it’s now going to be enforced, maybe it’s going to make an impact,” Kaplan said.
Niantic resident and dog-owner Donna Palumbo realizes the boardwalk is for pedestrians only, so she wants to create a place for the pups. She’s co-chairing a committee working to creating a dog park in town.
“My thought was, I go to dog parks in other towns, and I’d like one to be in my own town,” Palumbo said. She already working on collecting donations to fund the project.
East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the Parks and Recreation Department is creating new signage to make the rules clear. Nickerson said the town is very dog friendly and there are several parks and locations to take a dog. The fines are in place to target people who are blatantly disregarding rules that were already in place.