Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Dog ordinance splits Porter Council 4-1

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter Town Council voted 4-1 in favor of modifying the ban on dogs and pets in general on the Porter Beach lake front.

The former ordinance prohibited dogs from the entire beach but the new amendment states that “no person shall bring upon or cause to be brought upon or possess upon the lakefront beach property ‘east of State Street’ owned by the town any domesticated animal or pet.” West of State St., pets are allowed.

Dissenting was Council member Jeannine Virtue.

Before voting, Virtue asked fellow Council Member Elka Nelson, who had suggested a change to the ordinance weeks ago, to explain the reason for the amendment.

Nelson said she knows many residents on Porter Beach who have dogs take them to the beach all months of the year and are told by National Lakeshore rangers “very sporadically” that no dogs are allowed on the lakefront. The same goes for residents outside of Porter who walk their dogs around the beach area and are told they have to take their dogs off the beach.

But people still bring their dogs to the beachfront, she said, and the ban is difficult to enforce.

“I just think it’s an anarchic rule,” said Nelson.

Porter Police Chief James Spanier said at the previous council meeting that there had been a Porter Police officer who regularly watched the lakefront but funding for that is no longer available. The police only come to beach when they get calls, he said.

The east side of State St. is where most of the public congregates when going to the beach, while the west side is where residential homes are.

Dogs on the west side will still be required to be on a leash, as that is the rule for the entire town, Spanier said.

Virtue said her concern with having dogs on the beach is that there will be issues with animal waste.

“I think we are asking for a lot of trouble with this,” Virtue said.

Nelson said there is wildlife on the beach which also leave waste, like sea gulls and deer. “We’re living in a forest,” she said.

Council President Greg Stinson said he feels most dog owners are responsible in cleaning up after their pets and he doesn’t see it as “being a major issue.”

Voting in favor of the amendment were Nelson, Stinson, David Woodrich and Rob Pomeroy.

Jay Craig applauded

Later, Nelson said she wanted to express her appreciation for Town Assistant Fire Chief Jay Craig’s actions and “professionalism” during the search for the Illinois woman who drowned near Porter Beach about two weeks ago.

When the woman’s body was discovered by a Lake County Sheriff’s Police helicopter, Craig led a rescue team to retrieve the body. Instead of turning directly to the nearest shoreline where a number beachgoers were present, Nelson said Craig was “smart enough” to take the body to a less populated section of the beach near Dune Acres where the family of the drowning victim could identify her.

“I was truly, truly thankful and I think he deserves credit,” said Nelson.

Craig was not at the meeting but the Council, department heads and audience members applauded him.

Park Events

It was a quiet meeting for department heads, but Parks Director Brian Bugajski, as usual, had news bout happenings at Hawthorne Park.

This Friday will be the last summer outdoor concert and movie put on by the Westchester Public Library. Harpist Cynthia Shelhart will play at Hawthorne Park’s East Shelter starting at 7 p.m., followed by the Disney movie “Big Hero 6.”

Next Friday, Aug. 21, at noon will be the dedication of the William G. and Margaret E. Tilden Memorial Garden, which will take place in Hawthorne Park. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a small reception with refreshments.

Virtue praised the parks department for their efforts in transforming the garden, which has been a two and a half your process. “It looks amazing. I’m so excited.”

Two events are happening on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The Duneland Seniors Group will host their annual Health and Wellness Fair at the Hawthorne Park’s Community Center with free screenings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vision screenings will be by LTF Eye Clinics, ear wax screenings by Accurate Hearing of Chesterton, blood pressure and glucose screenings by Franciscan Alliance, and blood pressure screenings by CVS Chesterton.

The Chesterton Walgreens will be giving flu shots. The shots are free to those who bring their Medicare card or insurance card, otherwise there is a nominal fee.

Park Board member Rondi Wightman said the health fair is free to attend and open to all ages.

Bugajski said an acrylic painting class will be from 3 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 26 in partnership with Porter County Parks. There is a $10 fee for the class.

In other park matters, the Council voted to waive the rental fee for the Community Center for the 4 Paws for Luca fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 27, requested by Chesterton resident Joellyn Leasure.

The Council also gave permission to Valparaiso resident and youth baseball coach Michael Catlin to use the ball fields this fall for his independent youth league.

 

Posted 8/12/2015

 
 
 
 

 

 

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