By Jane Smith
Boynton Beach is moving closer to allowing dogs on the beach at Oceanfront Park.
A majority of city commissioners agreed Aug. 21 to a trial event proposed by Wally Majors, recreation and parks director.
The event will be free and open to all dog owners, from 9 a.m. to noon on a Saturday in late October or November. “We want everyone to have fun,” Majors said.
The exact Saturday will depend on whether the county’s Environmental Resources Management Department allows the activity to take place during the turtle-nesting season, which ends Oct. 31. Majors did not have a date as of press time.
In addition, two part-time park rangers recently approved in the city’s budget will start Oct. 1. They will need to be trained. The earliest they will be ready is Oct. 13, Majors said.
The park rangers will monitor the dogs and their owners. They will ensure the dogs have Palm Beach County licenses, which show their rabies vaccines are current. Owners won’t have to preregister.
The rangers also will monitor the temporary fencing that will extend from the dune to the high-tide line, if the county approves, Majors said. “People can still walk across the beach on the wet sand,” he said.
Three parks maintenance workers will set up the site on 450 feet at the north end of the beach starting at 7 a.m. The workers also will take down the temporary fencing at noon and clean up dog feces left behind.
The fencing will aim to keep dogs from property to the north, which is county beach and does not allow dogs; and to the south, away from other Oceanfront Park guests and the private beaches in Ocean Ridge.
While Boynton Beach owns the beach, it is in the town of Ocean Ridge and subject to its ordinances. Ocean Ridge does not allow animals, including dogs on leashes, on the public beach. Owners of private beaches can allow dogs on their beaches.
Majors said he planned to call the Ocean Ridge town manager in late August.
Ocean Ridge is waiting for a proposal to review, said Jamie Titcomb, town manager. The Town Commission will meet on Sept. 6.
“We will work with them if they want to do it as a special event,” he said. “Otherwise, we will enforce our ordinances.”
Vice Mayor Christina Romelus was the lone dissenter at the Boynton commission meeting.
“I was against it in the beginning and I’m against it now — waste of resources and staff time,” she said. “We just closed after-school programs because of lack of staff. Now we’re hiring staff to pick up dog poop?”