Thanks to Drunken Boaters, City Closes Dog Beach Without Public Input

Categories: Politics
dog park.jpg
Photo by Eric Barton


For years now, Exchange Club Park in Pompano Beach has been a secluded, almost secret oasis for dogs and their owners. Here was the only beach in Broward and Palm Beach counties where dogs were allowed at any time. The clear and calm waters of the Intracoastal made it an ideal spot for New Times to select it as Best Dog Park in this week's Best Of Broward/Palm Beach edition.

But just as that award hit the stands last week, city officials met behind closed doors and decided to shut down the dog park. A threatening letter from an attorney and a written
complaint from a neighbor were apparently all it took for city officials to decide, without public input, that dogs would no longer be allowed.

It's an example of just how government shouldn't be run. Without any word from the public, nameless bureaucrats decided to change the rules and stop tens of thousands of people from bringing their dogs to a park they've been using for years.

Pompano Beach spokeswoman Sandra King said the decision was made by parks department officials from Pompano and Lighthouse Point. The two cities share the tiny park on NE 24th Street. It was never an official dog park, but the no-leash policy beyond a gate leading to the beach meant dog owners far outnumbered others.

Those off-leash dogs have caused continued problems at the park, King says, largely by drunken boaters who run speedboats ashore on the sandy beach. King says there have been fights, including a stabbing, and deputies are regularly called to break up problems between the dogs. Some boaters have even brought fighting dogs to train on unsuspecting house pets, she says.

Those stories don't agree with accounts from several regulars at the park, who describe it as a quiet spot where the dogs rarely number a dozen or more. 

But earlier this month, the city received two letters complaining about the park, including one from attorney Jennifer Colson of Pompano. Colson, who didn't return a phone call to her office, sent a carefully worded letter June 7 that indicated the land owners and cities "are now put on notice" about the "extreme likelihood" of dog bites or criminal activity at the park.

The land is owned by the Florida Inland Navigation District, so King says the city didn't have the option of banning boats. Instead, the bureaucrats figured the easiest way to fix the problem was to post signs banning dogs from the park. Signs went up Friday, and the city has begun issuing warnings to owners of off-leash dogs, which will be followed soon by fines.

Of course, the city could've tried other methods that have been successful at other dog parks. Those who bring off-leash dogs could've been required to pay a fee that went toward a security presence at the park. Boaters could've been forbidden from bringing their troubled dogs off boats. But that wouldn't have been as easy as just posting some signs and banning people with dogs from the park.

And the cities could've asked the public for input. They could have held a public hearing or brought the issue up at a meeting of either city's commission. But doing so would've motivated the thousands of people who use the park to come out and voice their opposition to the change. Then the bureaucrats wouldn't have been able to make their quick decision in response to two complaints.

King defends the ban and the lack of public input on it. "The do have a value on public opinion," she said of the unnamed officials who made the decision. "But this is an administrative-type decision. This is the type of decision that is made every day without public input." She likened it to decisions to change park hours, which would never go before a vote.

But if changing park hours affects tens of thousands of people no longer able to enjoy a park the way they have for years, it should go before the public. Because bad decisions like this one are exactly why government doesn't work better in the dark.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter: @ericbarton.

Location Info

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Exchange Club Park

2888 NE 24th St., Pompano Beach, FL

Category: General


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26 comments
Training Dog on Leash
Training Dog on Leash

 Wow . Great beach for pet lovers like me . Where exactly this beach is ? Anyways thanks for the share . :)

Lisa Meneses Politto
Lisa Meneses Politto

This was a great park that my husband and I and our 4 dogs went to every weekend. Most of the people and pets were friendly and social. One rowdy family of rednecks came in with cases of beer every weekend for a couple of months and ruined everything. We were there when they had a drunken family fight and the cops were called. By the way, they only had one dog with them! The only other problem dog that was at this park was a large white shepherd who lived across the street from the park and the owner allowed him to roam free. He would come in the park when someone was opening the gate, unattended he was a bit aggressive. I was extremely upset when I went to the park with my dogs and saw all of the "no dogs allowed" signs. It seems that the rowdy rednecks and the alcohol are the ones that should have been banned. They ruined it for the rest of us!

Kcr357
Kcr357

please email me at kcr357@yahoo if you would like to try to get the park reopened to dogs

The Dude
The Dude

Clearly the writers view is completely one sided. I've grown up in Pompano and specifically in that particular neighborhood for my 40 years. The allowance of dogs at the park is pretty new to someone like me who has been going there far before a dog was allowed. I love dogs and have a couple of my own, but that little park is just not big enough nor is it set up to be a dog park. The sand has become so nasty you don't want to walk barefoot on it, and on a hot day it doesn't smell to good either. I go to this park regularly with my kids and was getting to the point where I worried about them getting infantigo or something from the sand. Also the idea that "drunken boaters" are the issue is ridiculous and laughable. It has nothing to do with transportation and little if anything to do with alcohol. First of all in my opinion you shouldn't have a dog unless you have a yard. If you buy a dog anyway then you have to deal with it. The rest of society does not have to deal with you cause you have a dog. Be responsible. If drunken dog fighters are showing up and you don't want the place shut down then be proactive instead of getting pissed after the damage is done. I do think cities should make places for dogs especially since its gotten so built up with so many condos/apartments, but this tiny neighborhood park is not the place for it.

Embryo3
Embryo3

It is unfortunate that behind closed doors without an investigation or public vote, that Pompano Beach officials closed this dog beach.

We have been visiting this park with our two dogs and two kids for years without incident. It is one thing to put this out to the people to vote on and if the decision would have been to close the park well fine the people voted for it but, to close this park on unfounded and for personnel interest will have its backlash.

I personally will vote to oust all officials that had anything to do with this haphazard decision and will spread the word.

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DISGRRRUNTLED  IN POMPANO
DISGRRRUNTLED IN POMPANO

Anyone know what we can do about it?  I saw the director of parks & rec  Pompano at the park 6/13 I was the only one there he said there had been several complaints also said he'd never been there on the weekend 6/16 park closed to "pets".  I've emailed him twice  all he'll say is he "he feels this is the safest and healthiest decision for the various park users" What about the open container law? Why not enforce that ? I spent at least 8 hours a week there playing with my dog on different days only time I saw any problems was on the weekends with the weekend warriors drinking it is idiotic to blame dogs for the behavior of some humans.  Majority of people and dogs I met at park seemed to be very nice just out to spend a little time with their dogs in a beautiful location. I think some of the complaints are exaggerated fighting dogs to train... really well what happened were they arrested?I plan to show up every weekend I'm around and call police if I see any drinking.  

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson

Fort Lauderdale will sell you a permit for $30 per dog to let you use the beach for up to 4 hours ( except on week days ),  plus parking fees

Veganron
Veganron

If the local equivalents of Michael Vick are bringing fighting dogs to train at the park, wouldn't this be a great opportunity to gather information to break up these dog fighting rings and arrest the abusers who participate in them?

Fiveflags
Fiveflags

Perhaps if the city made it a dog friendly during early morning weekday hours say, Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. then the drunken boaters would not been there and folks could enjoy the park with their dogs. Keep it to no dogs after those hours. Make some sort of compromise. If the city is policing the area anyway, they can managed this..

Jezebel
Jezebel

A threatening letter from an attorney representing a single resident. What happened to democracy? It's ridiculous that the city would bow to one person's request to get rid of a dog park that hundreds or even thousands of residents and their well-behaved dogs regularly--and peacefully--enjoyed.

SMDrPepper
SMDrPepper

Who wants to bet this will be the site of a new condo or hotel?

Sing it
Sing it

Good, now I can use the park with my kids instead of having to worry about the dogs running around. If you live in LHP, then you have a yard big enough to exercise your dog.  You shouldn't need that park there to have your dog, even if you "clean it up" afterward, it still leaves the residue

Joshua Hulford
Joshua Hulford

You sir, have no heart. TAKE YOUR KIDS TO ONE OF THE MANY MANY HUMAN BEACHES!!!! THIS IS THE ONLY ONE WE HAD!!!!

Jsboater
Jsboater

This was the one and only place where dogs were allowed in All of Broward County, which deservedly has the reputation as the worst place for actual USE of small boats in the State of Florida. I anchored off the dog beach numerous times and always clean up after my 14 pound dog did her business. On weekends, There were usually 4 or 5 boats anchored off and 1 to 3 boats beached. I never saw a dog or human fight. You can take your kids to dozens of beaches and intracoastal access points. Thanks to your complaint, my right to quiet enjoyment of my boat has been severely diminished.

Anon
Anon

I'm sure people could say that about kids as well. I have dogs and no kids.. why do I have to deal with someone's kids if I don't want to.. Besides.. Humans have more then enough places to go to the beach with their kids.. Let the folks with dogs have someplace to go as well.

Julie
Julie

On leash not the same as off leash in a safe fenced in area

Tara
Tara

Yes because this was the absolute only beach you could bring your children in South Florida. Get over yourself. And how dare you generalize LHP by saying if you live there you have a big enough yard for a dog...Some may live in apartments or condos. Not to mention, some may live in neighboring communities. 

Joshua Hulford
Joshua Hulford

How could you say that? There are hundreds of parks in south florida and lots of beachs for children to enjoy. This change takes away the only dog beach in Broward county which thousands of loyal patrons have been using for years. Shame on you and your self centered point of view.

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

Dogs are banned from almost every park in Broward County and allowed on a small stretch of beach just a few hours a week. Luckily for you, though, kids are allowed everywhere.

Edoller
Edoller

I use the park since a couple of years, saw problems with car break ins, and a lot of human trash on that little beach, never had an issue with children, parents, or other dog owners. I wish they would keep that park open for dogs, especially because the county parks are closed every Tuesday and Wednesday, the dog park on US1 is closed every Tuesday for cleaning, So, where do I go from here?

Tara Hodgman
Tara Hodgman

Eric,As a regular to the park, I am heartbroken over its recent ban on pets. I am creating a facebook page for those to voice their opinions on the matter. May I use your article?

Thanks,Tara

Sandy
Sandy

I am doing anything and everything possible to have the park back for our pets. I have been going there for 20+ years until someone posted in the paper and some low lives had it ruined for the rest of us hard working people who live in LHP. I will not give up on having asshole people banned so we can return to what was once a peaceful park. If you want to get drunk & fight go to a bar Losers.https://www.facebook.com/video/video.p...

Mark
Mark

Hello Tara,Any Luck with the FaceBook page about the Closed Dog Beach ?  I have called Lamar Fisher, Pompano's Mayor and Complained about the closing. I was handing out Flyers trying to get people together on this , But No one follows thru. My Dog is 13 years old and swimming is the only exercise she can do. I would be willing to Pay a fee or even have a few hours on select days for the dogs.  anyway let me know what I can do.

  Mark and Coco :)

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