We are a group of responsible dog owners who want to share the beach with birders and others. We believe we all share the same passion in a slightly different form -- the need to be outdoors and connect with the animals we cherish. Sharing the beach is our goal.
We intend within the next few months to present a proposal to designate Montrose as a dog friendly beach where dogs may be exercised off leash during off hours (when lifeguards are not on duty during the season; when the park is open during the off-season). Our proposal will be in accordance with the new city ordinance permitting designation of dog-friendly beaches and will include thousands of signatures of dog owners and others in support of our plan, as well as data demonstrating that use of the beach during off hours is minimal except for dog owners.
We intend to take responsibility for educating dog walkers on the beach, distributing a written code of conduct and using peer pressure to make sure dog owners pick up after their dogs and are otherwise good citizens.
The reality is that people with dogs will always find their way to the beach. Indeed dog owners have been using the beach during off-hours for years, although it has been technically illegal. There have been no problems; there is virtually no dog waste on Montrose Beach. There are more birds every year. If the beach is designated as a place where we can come and legally exercise our dogs, it will be to everyone's advantage -- there will be a group of dog owners committed to taking care of the beach and to disciplining the few who might disturb the peace.
We understand and empathize with the birdwatchers and want only to work with them. We understand that the Hedge is an important bird sanctuary that must not be disturbed by dogs. If the Hedge and the dune need to be fenced off we would work to make sure everyone understands and respects those boundaries. But we are not interested in a fenced-in area; we come to the beach for the freedom to walk. For that freedom we are willing to work.
We believe that it is important to designate as many beaches as possible in accordance with the new City Council ordinance because the designation of multiple beaches will minimize the possibility of overuse. Montrose is the biggest beach and the only beach with disabled parking access. Our presence at times of minimal use by other beach-goers makes the beach a safer place for everyone.
The beach is for everyone.
Drafted by Susan Kimmelman. Distributed to the chairman of the planning committee of the Lincoln Park Advisory Council (LPAC), other LPAC members, and representatives from the Park District on September 20, 2000.