Naples, Fla. -- Residents filled Naples City Hall Tuesday afternoon for a public hearing held by The Community Services Advisory Board. The topic of discussion: allowing dogs off-leash on a popular beach.
About thirty people spoke during public comment and more than half were not in favor of having a portion of Lowdermilk Park Beach designated for off-leash dogs.
The proposal would allow dog owners let their pets roam free on 200 yards of the 8 mile stretch of beach. This would only be allowed from sunrise until 8:30am, Monday through Friday.
“I’m definitely all in favor for dogs on the beach, I could see even having longer and more times on the beach and more beaches,” said Roberta Hutchinson, Naples.
Right now both the city and Collier County ordinance prohibit any animals on the beach.
“It’s just not appropriate for dogs to be running off leash on the beach, there are plenty of dog parks in collier county,” said Jean Hartman, Naples.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is very concerned about allowing dogs on any beach in Collier County.
“We have wildlife that depend on our coastal resources for their survival, we have a tremendous water quality problem and we know that each new source of pollution that enters the water including dog waste contributes to the overall problem,” said Nicole Johnson, Director of the Environmental Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Johnson says dogs could impact migratory shore birds and loggerhead sea turtles. “If those turtles or the hatchlings don’t make it back into the water by sunrise they could fall victim to a curious dog, harassment by dogs and that’s a real serious issue,” said Johnson.
In addition to the public comment, city staff say they have received 49 letters in favor of the proposal and 150 who are opposed.
This was first brought to the Naples City Council by Cindy Myers back in May 2019. The council advised a review from the city’s Community Services Advisory Board. City staff say as of Tuesday they have received 49 letters in favor of the proposal and 150 who are opposed.
The meeting is a way for the advisory board to hear both sides before making a recommendation on whether to move forward with the proposal to the city council.