Owners not cleaning up after their dogs on village beaches is one of those ongoing topics in East Hampton.
And, the village board is going to take it on, again, at its next work session on Feb. 7.
Matt Norklun — who, in recent years, has earned a bit of reputation, leading the charge against "dog poop" — lodged a complaint at the village board meeting on Friday.
"I stopped in disgust after picking up 15 bags of dog poop on the beach at Georgica. It was more than that, but I stopped counting," he told the board.
Each day last week that he went to surf off the village beach, he'd pick up more. "I don't go to the beach looking for dog poop, but everybody does, because if you don't look for it, you're going to step in it," he said. The difference, he said, is he picks it up if he sees it.
In East Hampton Village, dogs are allowed on the beaches this time of year, but they are not permitted on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from the second Sunday in May through Sept. 30. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets, and risk a $250 fine if they fail to do so. Plastic bags for clean-up are provided at the entrances.
Norklun was once fined for littering after he brought a collection he picked up at the beach and left it on the steps of Village Hall.
He blames the increase in dog droppings to more people bringing their dogs to the beach.
"It's now fashionable to walk your dog on the beach. People saw a Viagra commercial, a Cialis commercial, and they say, 'I want to be that lifestyle. It's a mindset," he said, to which he got some chuckles from the audience. "I know there's a difficulty in enforcing the law, but we have to change the mindset," he said.
"Flowery language" on a sign at the entrance that asks dog owners to pick up after their dogs "is interpreted as invitation to walk your dog on the beach." He would prefer a sign that says: "Please do not walk your dog on the beach."
"It won't take an act of Congress," he said. "It just expresses, 'We'd rather you didn't use the beaches as a toilet.'"
Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. told him that they planned to discuss the issue next month. Just a few years ago, the village floated an idea to cut back the hours dogs were allowed on the beach in the summer, but drew strong criticism from the dog-friendly community.
"If there's a reason to have dog poop on the beach, I'd like to hear it," he added. "What's going to happen in the summer if it's this bad now?"
So how do you feel about the situation? Do you notice a lot of dog feces on the beaches? Do you want to see dogs banned from beaches? Tell us in the comments below.