Parks officials want to ban dogs altogether from Bristow Bird Sanctuary, a public park off of 106 that adjoins Mead Park.
If the Town Council updates an ordinance that deals with dogs in public parks, then the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control Unit could ticket anyone with a dog in Bristow, even if it’s leashed, members of the Park & Recreation Commission said Wednesday night at their regular monthly meeting.
“There are plenty of places for dogs to go in town on leash, so it is not like they would be denied recreational access,” the commission’s chair, Sally Campbell, said during the meeting, held in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center.
The commission had taken up the matter one year ago and, despite reservations from the parks superintendent about how widespread was the desire to ban dogs from Bristow, made a recommendation to the Ordinance Subcommittee of the Town Council. That effort went nowhere.
Commissioner Andrea Peterson said the original deed on the property reads: “Land shall forever be maintained as a bird sanctuary and wildlife preserve and used for no other purpose whatsoever.”
It isn’t clear whether that implies leashed dogs cannot access Bristow. The Town Council likely would discuss the matter with the town attorney, said Sven Englund, a councilman and liaison to Park & Rec who was in attendance.
According to Recreation Director Steve Benko, the New Canaan Audubon Society in 1976 relinquished its rights to the property and handed what then had been called the ‘New Canaan Bird Sanctuary’ to the town. The town renamed it and, since the habitat for birds had declined so that songbirds no longer were using Bristow, dogs were allowed in it, Benko said.
The property used to have a “No Dogs Allowed” sign that since has come down and a dog waste bag dispenser is located at the gate.
Commissioner Francesca Segalas said the dispenser should be removed and sign banning dogs replaced.