Dog Waste Committee takes action in downtown Ridgefield
The days of unsightly and malodorous piles of dog droppings forming an obstacle course on Main Street’s sidewalks are coming to an end.
At least that’s what members of a town committee against dog poop are hoping to achieve with a newly installed cleanup station at the north entrance of Ballard Park.
It’s the first tool to be used in the war against dog waste — an effort that began this past spring.
“Since early May 2017, the town’s has been working on getting dog waste stations installed at various locations on Main Street, as well as strategic locations on the rail trail,” said Molly McGeehin, who chairs the 10-member committee. McGeehin also serves as town treasurer.
The committee was formed by First Selectman Rudy Marconi in response to public outcry against the escalating number of poop piles found throughout Ridgefield — notably on Main Street.
McGeehin said the committee was inspired by a presentation by then eighth grader Logan Lachemann, who alongside his mother, Nicole Connors, laid out the stations’ necessity and estimated costs. Logan also proposed the locations along Main Street.
Three Girl Scouts — Jax Mantione, Karina Rao and Sofia Diagle — proposed adding five stations on the rail trail (another location rife with poop piles), as part of a project to earn their respective Silver Awards.
Those waste stations will be installed once they get the go-ahead from Eversource, McGeehin said. The Girl Scouts have agreed to maintain the stations.
McGeehin stressed that all dog waste stations would be funded and maintained entirely through donations, at no cost to the town.
Lachemann plans to refill the plastic bag dispenser for the waste station on Main Street for the next two years, she said.
Two down, four to go
The dog doo issue extends beyond McGeehin’s committee and its young participants. The town’s Historic District Commission was asked to review six proposed sites — all of which were located in the section of Main Street that falls under the commission’s purview. The commission struck down all but two of the proposed stations, which they say will have to meet certain standards:
- Have the Highway Department cut the poles down to minimize “visual pollution.”
- Contact Eversource’s call-before-you-dig program
- Find a contractor to install the stations.
The Historic District Commission’s decision on the remaining two stations is pending.
The dog waste station installed at the north entrance of Ballard Park sits outside the Historic District.
If approved, the two additional stations will be installed on Main Street as private funding is received.
Dog poop is far from a harmless fertilizer, according to the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“It may be surprising that dog waste has been identified as a primary bacterial pollutant,” the state said in a newsletter.
Dog waste does contain fertilizers, according to the DEEP newsletter, but the phosphorus and nitrogen in dog excrement can be picked up by runoff into lakes, rivers, and streams, causing harmful algae blooms that suck up the available oxygen in the water — choking fish and other organisms.
“Using genetic tracking, researchers determined that almost 20% of the bacteria in a Seattle area watershed could be matched with dogs,” the newsletter read.