MARINETTE — Members of the Marinette Parks & Recreation Committee on Tuesday discussed the ongoing problem of dog owners not picking up after their pets in city parks. Though no action was taken, the possibility of banning dogs from the parks entirely was left on the table for future consideration. 

The topic was brought to committee by Ward 1 Alderman Ken Keller, who previously brought the topic to the city’s Board of Public Works. After some discussion, the Board of Public Works decided to forward the topic to the Parks & Recreation Committee, and Keller’s concerns were put on the committee’s Tuesday’s agenda. 

Keller opened discussion Tuesday and said some discussion had been had in the past about installing brighter, more reflective signs in city parks to warn dog owners to pick up after their pets, but nothing came of it except signs restricting leash lengths. 

“We’re supposed to be promoting our parks for use and for the kids and everybody else, the youth,” he said, and suggested the fine for the municipal offense of not picking up after pets be raised. Currently, the fine’s maximum amount is set at $422, though it may be a lower fine at the judge’s discretion. 

Alderperson-at-large Dorothy Kowalski, committee chairperson, said she believed the problem stems from the difficulty of enforcing the city ordinance. Keller replied that if the city raises the fine or simply begins fining the maximum amount to offenders, he believed word would spread and offenses would become more infrequent.

Kowalski suggested the committee hear input from Animal Control Officer Mary Cherry with the Marinette Police Department, before taking any action on the topic. 

“I know she goes and polices around to see what’s going on,” Kowalski said. “Perhaps that’s something we can add to her route.” 

“I think there are other ways of enforcing it, down the line,” Keller said. “Video, even. ... I guess what it’s coming to is, are we going to have to restrict certain areas of parks?” 

Superintendent of Public Works Patrick Carlson said he didn’t think extra signage in parks would deter offenders. Currently, he said, there are dog pick-up bag dispensers in several city parks, but he felt there will always be a portion of park visitors who don’t utilize the resource. 

“Either they’re going to do it, or they’re not,” he said. 

Keller said he would consider closing the parks to dogs in the future, but added that he would be willing to try other ways to enforce the municipal ordinance before reaching that step. Mayor Steve Genisot said the problem with having Cherry enforce the ordinance was her lack of time to do so, as well as city park visitors’ adherence to rules as long as a police vehicle is in view. He did admit that there is an ongoing problem in city parks with dog owners failing to pick up feces. 

“I don’t think it’s getting better, I agree with this viewpoint,” Genisot said. “Even the new Menekaunee Harbor Park, they’re coming, opening their car door, letting the dog out, and they’re not watching that dog.” 

“I’d close the parks, if people can’t abide by the rules of the parks,” Ward 7 Alderman Rick Polzin said. “I think you’ve got to take a stand.” 

After further discussion, the committee decided to table the discussion for a future meeting and invite Cherry to give her views on the issue of enforcement.