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Adams Board of Health to Address Dog Poop Issue

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Health discusses the problem of dog owners failing to pick up after the pets on the rail trail. 
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health will formulate a plan to keep dog feces off the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.
 
Before moving into their formal agenda Wednesday, the Board of Health heard from a group of residents who have had enough of people leaving dog waste on the trail.
 
"I was literally shocked from the excess amount. I am talking hundreds of piles in that corridor where the train sits," concerned citizen Karen Rose said. "You want people to come visit the town and when they visit they get to see a trail full of dog feces."
 
The issue has not only come up earlier this year but years prior and the town has been unable to formulate a strategy to combat the excremental blight.
 
Rose, who led the charge, tossed the ball into the Board of Health's court and said the slowly decaying dog poop creates a health hazard on the trail.
 
"They can take over a year for them to degrade in the winter and it is not biodegradable like people think because of what we feed our dogs now," Rose said. "The parasites in the dog feces stay alive and they go into the ground and seep into the groundwater."
 
She thought the trail may need to be decontaminated and added that educating the public on these health hazards could help mitigate this issue.
 
Residents in attendance noted that the town does have the power to hand out $50 fines to those caught in the act and Rose added that just enforcing this policy would decrease the number of incidents.
 
"It is just like Goshen. We all know that you don’t speed in Goshen because the Goshen police will get you," Rose said. "It is the same concept. If you set an example and start out with these fines perhaps the word will get out and it will discourage people."
 
Board member Bruce Shepley said although the town has a policy it is difficult to enforce and added that police do not necessarily have time to stroll the bike path looking for those not minding to their animals.
 
"It falls pretty low on their list of responsibilities," he said.
 
He added that the town has also had bad luck with security systems in the past and feared rigging the trail with cameras would only lead to theft.
 
He said it is a hard thing to prove nonetheless and noted if residents are able to film dog owners neglecting to clean up with their phones that can be used as evidence.
 
The suggestion of more trash cans on the trail was brought up but Selectman James Bush said he thought this would just lead to misuse.
 
"Trash cans are great but I think we will have the same issue that we have at the cemetery," he said. "People bring trash from their homes because they don't want to get a dump sticker. If we put more on the rail trail they will be abused."
 
There was also a thought that more direct signage proclaiming that the town mandates that pet owners clean up after their animals and list the fine.
 
"Just some simple signage that state that simple purpose so people see this and see what the problem is," Board of Health member Peter Hoyt said. "It should be common sense but unfortunately people don't see common sense so easily."
 

Resident Cathy Foster said the issue goes beyond the rail trail and especially affects the Greylock Glen. She added that she didn't think signage would help because a lot of people simply don't care.
 
She said it is a dog ownership issue in Adams.
 
"I don't think it’s an education or signage issue I think it is a lack of respect," Foster said. "People do it right in my yard...I have a dog and I don't need to be reminded because I want to do the right things but not everybody does." 
 
Foster did suggest that, instead, the town develop a policy that would mandate that dog walkers carry clean-up bags. If they don't have bags a fine can be issued.
 
The board wasn't sure on the legality of this and said they had no solution for the time being.
 
Chairman David Rhoads did add that the board will take these suggestions to other stakeholders and try to find a solution.
 
"I would love to answer your questions right now but we cant," he said. "There were a lot of suggestions here and we have done some work already but I think we need to sit down with the other players and find a systematic approach."
 
Town Administrator Jay Green agreed and said he was going to look through the town code and believe if everyone works together they can find a solution.
 
"It is not an easy issue and does create blite in the town," Green said. "It is disappointing  that we have to deal with it but that doesn't mean we can’t deal with it if we cooperate and take a look."
 
In other business, the board also welcomed the new Building Commissioner Gerald Garner and Garner said he plans to do things differently.
 
"I can tell you in the future you are going to see a little more aggressiveness in code enforcement," he said. "We need to attack this a little bit differently than we have been handling it."
 

Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail,   dogs,   poop,   

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Solid Waste District Considers Accepting North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management has entered into conversations with North Adams about rejoining the district.
 
Williamstown representative Tim Kaiser told the commission Thursday that he and program director Linda Cernik have met with city officials about re-entering the district.
 
"At the request of the city we had a meeting ... and they are interested in rejoining the district," Kaiser said. "They expressed that they have the capability of running pretty much all of their operations now but they are weak in areas that they feel we are strong in."
 
Kaiser said the city is specifically interested in the coordinated events, outreach, and educational opportunities the district offers. The waste district had come up at a city Public Services Committee meeting in May about composting and education. He did not see a downside at this point and noted that if North Adams were to join, it would become the district's largest member.
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