Delray dog owners get no special treatment from Boca

Related: Tailwaggers and owners lap up beach time in Boca Raton

By Steve Plunkett
Delray Beach dog owners, like any nonresidents, will pay $165 a year to bring their pets to Boca Raton’s new Bark Beach.
    But Boca Raton officials wondered if they should do something extra for their northern neighbors, especially given that Delray Beach nixed the idea of a dog-friendly beach the same time Boca Raton approved its pilot program.
    Council member Constance Scott said she spoke with Delray Beach commissioners who want their own dog beach but lack evidence of the need. She recommended Boca Raton color-code permits to make it easy to spot Delray visitors.
    “That’s just an idea, a way of doing research for them,” Scott said. But council member Michael Mullaugh thought the added effort was not necessary.
    “I have been to plenty of public meetings in Delray, and there’s no hesitancy among residents of Delray Beach to express their opinion on virtually everything,” he said. “So I believe if they are concerned about having a dog beach in Delray they will say so.”
    His comment drew knowing chuckles from his colleagues on the dais.
    “My point is, they will get a dog beach there if enough residents in fact want one,” Mullaugh said. “If they have a good experience at ours, believe me, something will be said at a public meeting.”
    Fears of an invasion of Boca Raton’s dog beach by Delray Beach pet owners caused council members to reject a $60 nonresident fee originally proposed. Recreation Services Director Mickey Gomez upped his recommendation to $165. Residents of the city and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District pay $30 per dog.
    Mayor Susan Whelchel said “numerous people” think the pilot program may not be a success. “If a person, especially a nonresident because of the amount of money, has paid a year’s fee and the park doesn’t make it … will they be reimbursed?” she asked.
    Mullaugh said council members could order reimbursements if they vote to discontinue Bark Beach.
    The pass for one three-day weekend is $10 for residents and nonresidents alike. Gomez said his staff has no way of checking residency for the passes, which are sold at the dog beach.
    But, Gomez said, the city requires documentation for annual passes so there is no need to color-code permits for Delray Beach pet owners.   
“When they come to purchase a permit we require proof of residency, so we know exactly where all the nonresidents are coming from,” Gomez said.
    Boca Raton modeled its pilot project after Fort Lauderdale’s Canine Beach. Jupiter also has a dog-friendly beach.

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