The Mountain Brook City Council, deciding that it could no longer roll over on a smelly situation, authorized the city attorney to tweak a city ordinance to prohibit dogs from a number of the city’s parks and playing fields.
The city has dog parks at Cahaba River Walk Park, the lower end of Mountain Brook Elementary field and behind the apartments at Lane Parke.
Attending the July 25 meeting via Zoom, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Shanda Williams said dog owners walking their pets and leaving waste behind has been an ongoing issue on the city’s sports fields and parks.
“The Park Board has discussed it several times,” the superintendent said. “We try to encourage people to (pick up their pets’ waste). We put out a lot of dog waste stations. People are making posts on it on Facebook, but we’re kind of at a loss right now.”
Council President Virginia Smith said the problem has been evident at Crestline Park and Overton Park. Others at the meeting cited Mountain Brook Elementary School.
Brooke Wilkerson is a resident who has been a substitute physical education teacher at Mountain Brook Elementary.
“There were dogs out there,” she said of the playground. “Kids were crying, especially young ones. I had to bring them inside.”
Councilman Gerald Garner agreed the matter goes beyond a waste issue for the children and sports teams.
“I’m not anti-dog. I love my dogs,” he said. “We have a couple of dog parks. We’ve got some great walking trails.”
Garner said there have been “tremendous numbers of dogs just roaming all over the place” at Crestline Elementary.
“There were several times (parents) could not take the kids out onto the playgrounds, or the fields because the number of dogs that were out there,” he continued. “It’s not just you might step in something. There’s a huge risk because, as I said, I’m not anti-dog. I’m more pro-kid. All it takes is for one of those animals to do something and now we have an innocent little kid trying to play on the playground, trying to meet their mom or dad after school at Crestline.
“I think it’s something that we should even more strongly consider than the waste. We’ve asked, we’ve pleaded, we’ve begged. Now it’s a safety issue.” Police Chief Jaye Loggins said there are already laws on the books that fine persons for not having a dog on an effective restraint, or leash. The first offense is $25 and the fine goes up each subsequent offense to a maximum fine of $125.
Loggins said officers, including the city’s animal control officer, will begin with educating the public about the suggested change.
Councilman Lloyd Shelton said the ability to walk dogs in city parks has a privilege that some have abused. Fellow Councilman Billy Pritchard said the adjusted law should be in place before school is back in session. A special meeting of the council will likely be need to accomplish that.
In other action:
- Fire Chief Chris Mullins relayed thanks from medics who wore protective vests as they among the first on the scene of the shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in June. “Some of our medics were some of the first responders in the building,” Mullins said. “Of course, at that time … they didn’t know all the details. Fortunately, they have these so they donned those. It made them feel much safer going in an environment with a potential shooter, if they’ve got a ballistic vest on.”
- The council reappointed Ashley Spotswood and Kate Wohlwend to the Village Design Review Committee.
- Mayor Stewart H. Welch III presented a proclamation of Alopecia Awareness Month. The declaration came after an appeal from Sandey M. Greene, founder of Don’t Stare! Just Ask, an alopecia support group. “I wrote a letter,” Greene said. “I explained to them about alopecia and what I was going through with alopecia, and they said yes.”
- City Manager Sam Gaston released a notice earlier Monday that construction work is scheduled to begin on the Caldwell Mill Road Bridge Replacement project on August 2. Caldwell Mill Road between Wynward Road and Caldwell Mill Lane will be closed beginning on August 9 while the existing bridge is removed and the new bridge is constructed. Residents, emergency services and local deliveries will be able to access the homes in the closure area during the road closure. Caldwell Mill Road should be accessed north of the bridge via Pump House Road and from the south via Dolly Ridge Road. Traffic on Caldwell Mill Road should be limited to residents only. The bridge is scheduled to reopen on December 29, 2022.
- The panel announced that that Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will conduct a public involvement meeting from 4 pm to 6 pm on Thursday, Aug. 11, at Mountain Brook Community Church, 3001 US 280. The gathering will be to discuss the proposed 4-laning of US 280 from Hollywood Boulevard to Interstate 459. That project includes replacing the Pumphouse Road Bridge.
The next regular meeting of the Mountain Brook City Council will be at 7 pm on Monday, Aug. 8.