Crack Down on Delinquent Dog Owners

The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen had a very candid discussion about the pervasive “dog problems” in Mattapoisett – ignored piles of fecal matter, dogs playing in parks and beaches where they are expressly prohibited – at their regular meeting on Tuesday night.

The issue arose because of recent media coverage in The Wanderer, with which the three Selectmen and several attendant town residents agree. Prior to the meeting, Town Administrator Michael Gagne visited the park at Ned’s Point Lighthouse, where he discovered “dog remains – that were going to be stepped on by somebody” in spite of the eight highly-visible signs which declare dogs prohibited from the green.

“Down at Ned’s Point are probably the most active strips of grass,” Gagne said, also listing Shipyard Park, Goodspeed Island and virtually all of the beaches in town. One resident in attendance said that Brandt Island experiences a number of beach violations by dog owners, as well.

“Generally, our policy is that we warn people,” Gagne said, suggesting that this policy might not be enough of a deterrent. “I think that we need to move to the next level, which is we give citations.”

Selectman Paul Silva firmly agreed with the suggestion that the town Natural Resources Officer and her team of assistants become more aggressive with delinquent dog owners.

“If [the owners] don’t care, we shouldn’t care,” Silva said.  “We should give them the citation.”

Because many of the dog owners who do not pick up after their pets usually walk the streets before the Natural Resources Officer is on duty, Silva suggested that the Board adjust her hours on a rotating basis to catch dog owners unaware.

Selectman Jordan Collyer, also in agreement with the Board’s decision to issue more citations to dog owners who are not following the town bylaws, noted the town’s lack of a dog park or beach.

“I can’t believe we don’t have a dog park in this town,” he said. “It just baffles my mind.”

Ray Andrews, a town resident, discussed the history of the beach at Goodspeed Island. At one town meeting, a vote successfully made the beach open to dogs provided that their owners picked up after them; the vote was never recorded in the meeting minutes.

The Selectmen discussed the possibility of using some of the town’s conservation land in locations where there is no risk of impacting the harbor as a dog park in the future, but it was not an action item.

The status of the road improvements was another important topic of discussion at the Selectmen’s meeting. The section of Church Street between Route 6 and North Street is ready to be paved. Highway Surveyor Barry Denham speculated a construction date sometime for late August or early September.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of residents who will be happy to drive up Church Street without banging the bottoms of their cars,” Denham said.

Denham also discussed potential road improvements for Acushnet Road, for which he has appropriated $10,000. Denham required the Selectmen to discuss inconsistencies in the public record regarding one stretch of Acushnet Road, where two plans cite different town and residential property lines. Depending on how the Selectmen, along with Town Counsel, choose to rectify the error – either by selecting one plan as the record or creating a composite plan from the information on the record for each of the properties in that particular stretch – the width of the road will vary. In turn, this will influence the kind of work that Denham will be able to accomplish at that site.

“I’d like to have a shoulder there so that if someone did skid off the road, they’d have something level to land on rather than go into a cranberry bog,” Denham said. “If we don’t own the property, it’s impossible to widen it.” He added that depending on the plan the town decides to use, the road layout ranges from 32 to 40 feet in width.

The Selectmen will continue to converse with Denham and Town Counsel regarding the incongruity.

The Board also discussed the Conservation Commission’s recent decision to apply for Land Grants for acreage surrounding Nasketucket and the Mattapoisett River Valley.

“[This is] the largest coastal land conservation project currently being advanced in Massachusetts,” Gagne read from the grant applications.

The 77 acres that are a component of a larger plan to preserve 400 acres around Nasketucket are categorized as core habitat. Because the Selectmen knew little about these parcels, including their current real estate appraisal, they could not authorize Gagne to sign the application on behalf of the town. However, the Selectmen said that they only want more information so that they can make an educated decision.

The Selectmen unanimously voted to authorize Gagne to sign the application on behalf of the town regarding the Land Grant for acreage in the Mattapoisett River Valley. These parcels were approved to move on to Town Meeting.

In other action items, the Board:

Signed and approved Treasurer’s bonds as submitted, which allow the road improvements to continue as scheduled.

Accepted the resignation of Judith Mooney as a member of the Finance Committee, and presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation. Gagne said of Mooney, “Mattapoisett is extremely lucky to have someone with her level of education and experience. I’m probably going to be begging her to return once her children grow up because she’s great to work with.”

Appointed Kevin Geraghty and Paul Amoruso to the Finance Committee.

Approved a two-week trailer permit to William and Helen Hoye for property located at the corner of Silver Shell Avenue and Waterman Street. The Selectmen also voted to remind the applicants that they must submit their application timelier next year, since the Selectmen meet more infrequently during the summer.

Approved a common victuallers license to “Men Who Cook” for Sunday, July 14 at Shipyard Park under the big tent.

Issued Certificates of Appreciation to: Kate Souza, Town Beach Supervisor; Bert and Betty Theriault, Coast Guard Auxiliary Lighthouse Tours; Randall Kunz, SRPEDD.

Melody Pacheco, Assistant to the Town Administrator, reminds the public that there is a vacancy on the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission. Interested residents may contact the Town Hall for more information.

The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen will meet next on August 13 at 7:00 pm.

By Anne Smith

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