By Jane Smith
Animals are banned from the beach in Ocean Ridge, according to Town Manager Jamie Titcomb.
Even so, the town would consider a formal proposal from Boynton Beach to allow dogs on that city’s adjoining 960-foot-long beach.
After the dog beach idea was floated in early August at a Boynton Beach City Commission meeting, Titcomb said he received a number of phone calls from Ocean Ridge residents. They were worried that Boynton Beach dogs were about to overrun them, he said.
“Besides wanting it, no formal request has been made,” Titcomb said in late August. “We need to know what it might look like, the hours it will be open and how it will be enforced before we go about changing the ordinances. It will be a public process.”
Boynton Beach Recreation and Parks Director Wally Majors said he might have misunderstood how the city wanted him to proceed with communications on the project. He’s been focused on the city’s proposed Town Square project and the end of summer camps. He called Town Square the most exciting thing he’s seen in his 32 years working for Boynton Beach. Programs at the city’s arts and civic centers will be moved to the renovated historic high school.
“The confusion was on my part,” Majors said. He contacted nearby cities that have dog beaches to find out how they are set up. He is still waiting to hear from Boca Raton. Jupiter has a volunteer group that runs its dog beach.
Majors wants to be a good neighbor to Ocean Ridge.
Decades ago, Boynton Beach sold most of its oceanfront land to people who then formed the town of Ocean Ridge.
Ocean Ridge police patrol the parking lots at Oceanfront Park and make sure the gates are locked at night, according to town Police Chief Hal Hutchins. As far as the beach goes, Ocean Ridge has a vehicle it uses to patrol its beach, the city stretch and the county beach.
“There are strong emotions on both sides of the issue,” Titcomb said. “As passionate as dog owners are, there are people who are fearful of dogs.”
Boynton Beach may want to allow dogs at its Oceanfront Park, but how will they keep them on the city’s beach? Titcomb asked.
“We are willing to explore it, if Boynton Beach will give us a proposal to review,” Titcomb said.
Majors agrees there are many issues to consider, including rules about cleanup, how to handle aggressive dogs and whether the dogs should be leashed or allowed to roam.
And he wondered what would happen to sea turtle nests, because some dogs like to dig.
Both men own dogs. Majors has two, including a therapy dog that stays at his side throughout the workday.
By Jane Smith