City reconsiders decision to not allow dogs in cemeteries

Published 11:30 am Friday, October 1, 2021

After a few meetings during which the Danville City Commission discussed the issue of dog waste in cemeteries, the commission on Aug. 23 decided to change cemetery rules and regulations, which reflected that dogs could be allowed in cemeteries on a leash, to match a city ordinance which said dogs are not permitted in cemeteries. However, on Monday the city commission took back the decision after some reconsideration. Commissioners Kevin Caudill and Denise Terry said they had left the Aug. 23 meeting feeling they hadn’t made the correct decision.

The recommendation to not permit dogs in cemeteries had come from the city cemetery committee. The desire was not only to match the cemetery rules and regulations to an existing ordinance but to address an issue, especially as it pertained to Bellevue Cemetery, also known as Danville National Cemetery — dog defecation on or near headstones that either hadn’t been picked up or couldn’t be picked up.

On Monday, Commissioner Jennie Hollon asked City Manager Earl Coffey how many complaints there had been over what time period. He said he had received several over the course of a week, then about a month passed and there was another complaint.

However, Terry said one thing she heard from members of the public is many of them didn’t know the dog defecation in cemeteries was an issue, or that they thought “the few ruin it for the many.” She said she didn’t agree with the fact the city was essentially reducing access to the cemeteries by not allowing people to bring their dogs. She said she knew none of the commissioners had been enthusiastic about their decision on Aug. 23.

“We have a leash law, and we have a waste law, so I think we should allow people to enjoy our cemeteries — all of the cemeteries,” she said, as she said the issue doesn’t apply just to Bellevue but to all city cemeteries.

“It just seems to me like we took a sledgehammer to something we could take, maybe, a small tack hammer to,” Caudill said.

Terry said she was in favor of putting out bag dispensers like the ones in parks — for example, Millennium Park — for people to use in the cemeteries. Hollon said the city could also change the “no dogs” sign in city cemeteries to avoid confusion. Instead, it could say that if someone sees a dog in the cemetery with no leash, to call the non-emergency police phone number.

Caudill said his desire was to give people a chance and if they know they’re being watched, those who violate rules and regulations might begin to self-police, or other visitors of the cemeteries might remind them of the rules and regulations.

City Attorney Stephen Dexter asked if it was correct for the recommendation from city staff to be revisited and denied, that the existing ordinance be revised to allow dogs on leashes and if that were violated, to make it a codes violation enforceable by citation. The commission confirmed unanimously — Mayor Mike Perros was not present — and Dexter said he would prepare documents so the city can begin putting that change in place.

In other business:

• There was an ENP certification recognition for Krystal Blackburn, a dispatcher with Danville’s 911 center. Rebecca Hafley, 911 communications director, said Blackburn is only the 18th person in the state to have received her ENP certification.

• Human Resources Director Randy Boyd asked for a change to the fiscal year’s authorized position list in the police and parks and recreation departments. After discussion with Police Chief Tony Gray, Boyd asked that the number of authorized positions within the police department stay the same at 39, but that one of the 25 patrol officer positions be changed to an investigations captain position over the detective unit, bringing the number of captains up from three to four. In parks and recreation, Boyd asked that there be an addition of a seventh full-time position, a maintenance worker. The city commission approved these changes.

• City Engineer Josh Morgan asked that the commission accept a resolution for a parks design fee and agreement with the design team the city chose for its parks facilities, Bayer Becker Design Group. The initial fee for preliminary design, primarily focused on an aquatic facility, the fair grounds, the Jennie Rogers building and Michael Smith Park development and improvements, is approximately $194,120. The commission approved the resolution.

• The city made the following proclamations: October as National Arts and Humanities Month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Domestic Violence Month and Oct. 3-9 as Fire Prevention Week.

• The commission decided to go forward in steps to become a Friendship City with Danville, California. The mayor of the city has connections with Kentucky; she was born in Fort Knox. She reached out to the city of Danville and asked to become a Friendship City.

• The commission approved a resolution for a change order to the central fire station under construction, which is a deduction of approximately $101,394, but Morgan said after the city purchases materials directly, it will amount to about $5,739 in savings.