MARINETTE — Following a lively public comment session on Tuesday, the Marinette City Council sent a proposed ordinance to ban dogs from all city parks back to committee in order to evaluate other enforcement options. 

The proposed ordinance was forwarded to the City Council by the Parks & Recreation Committee, following a discussion on June 11 about owners who do not pick up after their dogs in the parks. The committee heard comment from the city’s Animal Control & Code Enforcement Officer Mary Cherry, who said that while the city currently has waste collection bag stands at City Park, Red Arrow Park and Menekaunee Harbor Park with signage and an ordinance on the books that allows for fines up to $439, the problem persists. Ward 6 Alderman Rick Polzin moved that all dogs be banned from the parks and said he would like to bring the topic to the City Council because, “We need a discussion. I think we need to show people that we’re serious.” 

The proposed ordinance made waves among community dog owners and pet-related businesses, many of whom attended the City Council meeting on Tuesday to urge against its approval. Some who spoke indicated they would not like to see a dog ban instituted in the parks because it could negatively affect community image. Shannon Bennett, 1040 Josephine St., said she had spoken with several people regarding the topic, including a woman who was walking her dog in Red Arrow Park on June 29 during a visit with family in the area. 

“She ... had heard about the possible ban, and finds that the city seems ‘negative,’ regarding a ban,” Bennett said, before pointing to visiting campers in the City Park campground. “After the time, effort and funds spent on sprucing up the City Park camping area, are we going to tell people who want to camp here, ‘Sorry, you have a dog — we don’t allow dogs.’ ... That seems like a negative for Marinette tourism and a negative for revenue for the city.” 

Bennett suggested enforcing the city’s ordinance requiring dogs to be on a leash of 6 feet or less, installing bag dispensers, garbage cans and signage listing the leash and pick-up ordinances at park entrances, and fencing in playground areas to keep dogs out of them. Many in the crowd agreed with these sentiments. 

Jerry Hansen, 609 Carney Blvd., conceded that public education and enforcement for the issue would be “an uphill battle,” and suggested the creation of an off-leash dog park within city limits to give dog owners another option. 

“We have wonderful resources in this town that we should use to the max,” he said. “If we ban dogs in our city, it’s going to be awfully hard to get people to want to stay here.” 

The City Council also received a proposal from Rochelle Anderson, director of Mighty Pet in Menominee, who offered to partner with the city to install pick-up bag stations at all park entrances within city limits. Anderson also committed to advocating for and teaching responsible pet ownership to its customers, and submitted a letter to the city saying Mighty Pet “will seek to develop a controlled access dog park on M&M Plaza property.” 

“This park would be open to the public but managed for rabies vaccinations and accessible to pet owners with current dog license from any city,” the letter read. 

Following public comment, Mayor Steve Genisot said he believed there were other options available to the city for addressing the issue besides banning dogs from city parks. 

“I do agree, some enforcement, signage and dispensers (are needed),” he said. “Certainly we want to fill those dispensers, but we don’t want the public to rely on those dispensers for everything.” 

Alderperson-at-large Dorothy Kowalski, who seconded Polzin’s motion at committee level, said she did not not feel comfortable banning dogs from the parks. 

“We were looking for new ideas,” she said. “I do believe that the council is willing to try to work with everyone and see if we can take care of this.” 

Polzin agreed with Kowalski, and called his motion an attempt to find “creative solutions.” He said he supported more signage and bag dispensers and using volunteerism to spread the message to irresponsible owners. 

Ward 3 Alderman John Marx expressed dissatisfaction that the issue cycles through committee level and the City Council on a regular basis, but no long-term solutions are found when it does. 

“We need to come up with a solution for everyone,” he said. “I’d like to see it go back to committee.” 

The City Council voted unanimously to forward the ordinance back to committee to discuss alternative options. 

In other business, the City Council: 

¦ Approved an ordinance to change Marinette municipal code pertaining to overtime parking, increasing existing fines to a $40 fee for violations which doubles to $80 if not paid within 72 hours. 

¦ Approved an amendment to the City of Marinette 2020 Comprehensive Plan general design map and a request to re-zone parcels of land bordered by Pierce Avenue and Parnell, Wells and Daggett streets from R-2 Single and Two-Family Residential zoning districts to MU Mixed Use Commercial/Residential zoning districts, allowing Polzin Property Management LLC’s plans to build a four-story condominium complex on the corner of Wells and Daggett streets to proceed. A full story regarding the comprehensive plan change and re-zoning will be published in a future edition of the EagleHerald. 

¦ Approved the Marinette Police Department’s request to apply for a USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) grant for funding to purchase the department a BearCat tactical vehicle. A full story regarding the BearCat grant application will be published in a future edition of the EagleHerald. 

¦ Took no action regarding a proposed ordinance to institute no parking along the south side of Riverside Avenue across from the Eagle Creek Renewable Energy dam. Discussion by council members showed an interest in investigating other parking options for the street further at committee level, but a motion to approve the ordinance went unsupported. A full story regarding the proposed ordinance will be published in a future edition of the EagleHerald. 

¦ Received a presentation from the M&M Area Community Foundation regarding the Great Lakes One Water (GLOW) Initiative and what it means for the area. A full story regarding the GLOW Initiative will be published in a future edition of the EagleHerald.