Fido may soon be welcome in Gilman Park, as Exeter tries to become more dog-friendly.
The Exeter Select Board has drafted an amendment to a town ordinance that would allow dogs on leashes in parts of the park and along the trails.
Many people have been walking their dogs in the park under the assumption that they were already allowed.
In response to complaints, the board plans to amend the rule to let dogs in the park but ban them from the fenced-in baseball field and the park pavilion.
The board is expected to formally adopt the change at an upcoming meeting.
Board members voiced some concerns recently about allowing dogs in the park because it’s located along the Exeter River in an area where water is pumped from the river to provide drinking water for the town.
Some questioned whether contamination from dog waste could affect the river. Exeter Public Works Director Jennifer Perry said she didn’t think it would be a problem as long as dog owners are responsible and clean up their dog waste during walks.
In a memo to the board, Police Chief Stephan Poulin expressed support for the change after meeting with the town’s animal control officer and communicating with the parks and recreation director.
“We believe there is room for some modification of the town ordinances to dispel the false notion that Exeter is not ‘dog friendly,’” Poulin wrote.
At a board meeting Monday, local residents applauded the board for proposing the change.
“Exeter is in desperate need, as we know, of a dog-friendly park with easy terrain that’s within walking distance of Exeter town center, and in addition this ordinance supports and upholds the original intent of the park by the … trustees to remain people- and dog-friendly,” resident Dawn Jelley said.
Former dog owner Sally Ward said Exeter has a “deficit of places for people to take their dogs in town, and I think that’s unfortunate.”