Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Bark Island fee may go up

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:46 PM

For the last couple years, pet owners have brought their dogs to Bark Island, paying $7 per car for Fido to romp on the beach.

It didn't matter how many dogs people brought in their vehicle. They could stuff 10 dogs inside their car or van and still pay only the $7 fee.

That could soon change.

County commissioners Tuesday will consider revising the entry fee schedule and start charging people $7 for the first dog and $3 for each additional dog.

The revised fee structure is designed to create a more equitable situation and bring in more money to parks department coffers.

County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said he supports the fee hike because it is more "fair and balanced."

"Some people bring four dogs and they pay one fee and the next brings a Chihuahua and pays the same fee," Dukes said. "I think if you have a fee for a dog then it's implied that it is per dog."

Bark Island is a seasonal recreation program offered at Pine Island Park starting the first weekend after Labor Day and ending in mid-March, prior to Spring Break. Dog lovers can bring their pooches from 7:30 to 9: 30 a.m.

For whatever reason, the event is attracting more and more pets this season.

County Recreation Coordinator Harry Johnson said he believes the $3 additional per-dog fee is a reasonable number and makes sense.

"We have quite a few people who bring multiple dogs in one car load," he said.

The biweekly event made news in October after some residents complained pet owners were not picking up after their dogs and there was a lack of supervision at Pine Island.

County commissioners directed staff to do a better job of monitoring conditions during Bark Island and making sure pet owners picked up after their dog.

They also asked staff to consider tweaking the $7-per-car admission fee and charge extra for people with multiple dogs. That proposal comes before the board Tuesday.

In the last several weeks, parks staffers have erected additional signage at the beach area prohibiting dogs from entering restricted areas, such as the concession stand and restroom area.

Dog owners are required to remove any waste matter that their dogs leave on the beach. But staffers have stepped up patrols on the beach during and after each event to ensure the area is clean.

The county commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St. in downtown Brooksville. To see the entire agenda, visit (352) 544-5290

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