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Interim management requests respectful use of Cliff House Beach

The Town Council has approved interim management for Cliff House Beach, a town-owned property at the end of Sea View Avenue.

Related: Cliff House Beach to close temporarily for stair improvements

Cliff House Beach stairs to be replacedTown-owned beach at the end of Sea View Avenue will be closed for about a week beginning July 19 while unsafe stairs and base are being replaced

The council voted on July 9, 2018 to install a sign at the beach requesting that users be considerate, keep dogs under control, remove all waste (including dog waste), leave the beach cleaner than they found it, and consider walking or cycling to the beach.

The sign has been ordered and will be installed as soon as it is ready, said Town Planner Maureen O'Meara.

Officials are hopeful that the sign will appeal to the sensibilities of users until the town can respond by ordinance to complaints about inappropriate use of the small beach.

"As you know there is some confusion around the language in our current dog ordinance," said Jeremy Gabrielson, chair of the Conservation Committee, which hosted a public forum on May 8 in response to requests from beach-area residents. "I would basically lump the concerns in to two groups - there were a set of concerns around parking, which we determined were beyond the purview of what the Conservation Committee could be looking at, and then issues related specifically to dogs," he said.

The ordinance requires dogs to be leashed or tethered on municipal properties that are groomed or regularly maintained, but it does not, Gabrielson said, define what that means. The ordinance also lists municipal properties that are not considered groomed, but Cliff House Beach is not one of them.

For the short term the committee is recommending the town install the sign, "with the understanding that as the fall comes around we will be looking more broadly at the dog ordinance," Gabrielson said. "That would give us some opportunity to revisit use of the beach as it relates to off-leash dogs in that time, and also give us an opportunity to check back in with the neighbors once we've had the season behind us, see how the signage is working, and make some other recommendations for possible changes that might be needed to make this a more pleasant situation for everyone."

The Town Council on March 12 charged the Conservation Committee with a comprehensive review of the dog ordinance following adoption of new rules governing off-leash dogs at Fort Williams Park.

One of the committee's goals for 2018 is to work with the police chief to develop recommendations for amending the dog ordinance to align with policies in the Greenbelt and Open Space Management Plan.