City park awaits rain to reopen following high E. coli count

By Daniel Dunkle | Jul 15, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham

Rockland — City Manager Thomas Luttrell updated the City Council July 14 on the closure of Snow Marine Park due to high levels of E. coli.

He said measures have been taken to solve the problem including disposal of dog waste at the park and treating the green areas. After the next rain, the levels of bacteria will be tested again to see if it can be reopened.

The city will also test the waste found at the park for species, costing about $1,000, city officials said at the meeting.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | Jul 17, 2014 11:51

PS  Last week, Christine Parrish wrote an article that appeared in The Free Press regarding the request by Dragon Cement (Grupos Cementos of Spain), to allow the company to use the more lenient Federal standards for allowable mercuty emissions than are allowed by the State of Maine.  Yesterday, July 17, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, (composed of no members from this region), was to vote on this request.  How many expressed their concern to legislative bodies?

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Jul 17, 2014 11:27

Why always wait until there is threat of illness and/or death before attending to known problems?  All the facts have been in for a long, long time relating to most all things affecting  health, safety, and enjoyment of, and respect for, the planet and each other.  This is true in the case of the park, where the dog-running has been going on for a long, long time.  What has prevented people who were aware of the problem to keep from speaking out about it?


Some thoughts on this reticence:  people may be afraid that if they speak out about anything at all, there will be an instantaneous reaction that results in a a slew of regulations, fees, and restriction of behaviors.  If all the parents, friends, and family of the soccer players, for example, had banded together to put a stop to the doggie free-for-all, what repercussions would there have been?  Would they think that they risked no longer being able to use the park for soccer?


There also seems to be a growing reluctance to state that certain actions are right, and certain actions are wrong.  Laws have often served humans well, as we seem to be a rather dense species.  You litter, you pay a steep fine.  But individual actions that take into consideration the common good, health, and welfare need not require fines and laws if people would remember that it's not an "I" world.  It just isn't.


This morning, a memo from the City of Rockland, (I see a second has come in), with links to websites about the dangers of animal feces, sent by Terry Pinto, of the Wastewater and Sewage Treatment Plant.  This last comes with the comment, "With out any doubt areas that people are using for recreation
must be separated from any place dogs are allowed to use. The information
available regarding the dog waste is over whelming in regarding to how
serious the health risk are."  and  The former has great shock value, and it gets people's attention.


It has not gotten people's attention that the use of colored landscape bark, lawn fertilizers and pesticides, and most common household products, along with treated building materials, etc., have shocking effects.  Those are seen as concerns of people who are "anti-business."  Not so.  As far as I know, nothing drastic happened to the women in the South End of Rockland who were actively attempting to thwart bad human behavior, other than their getting maligned for it - and now, it's the hot topic.


I'm reading the dog poo extreme as a fogging of infrastructure problems.  The City can consult with the local epidemiologist - has the city done so?  In closing, anyone can have their email added to the various city contact lists to be better aware of what's happening behind the scenes.  It would be good to know if when the city empties city trash cans if that gets dumped into the hole, where it isn't incincerated, or into the hoppers, where it does.  Meanwhile - people have to clean up the poop.


Reading recommendation:  An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen.

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jul 17, 2014 05:22

Amen, Mark.

Posted by: Mark Breton | Jul 17, 2014 04:50

It's worth pointing out that this same park is used by kids for the fall recreation soccer program. Having coached these soccer teams I can tell you there is a lot of dog crap in that park. The kids shouldn't have to worry about stepping in crap during games and practices. They should just ban dogs from this park altogether. Why not create a dog park near the old Macdougal School? What's the cost, a fence and garbage cans?

Posted by: Judith Gushee | Jul 16, 2014 08:23

When is the last time anyone has been cited for failing to clean up after their dog?  It is a law correct?   It may not be the most important thing local officials have to deal with, but a small amount of time spent ticketing these individuals might be worthwhile.   It can be a health hazard although I find it hard to believe that high levels of e.coli in rain water were caused by dog feces in the park.   If it was than the city should spend more than a small amount of time on this problem.

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Jul 15, 2014 20:05

Just curious.  Did public works keep count of the actual number of poops they picked up?

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Jul 15, 2014 17:47

No need for violence.  There are several issues:here, not all related.  First:  There has been no confirmation about the source of elevation in e.coli in the DEP sample.  E. Coli is a normal bacteria.  It was found in higher than normal concentrations.  The source and cause have not been identified. It is unclear whether the Wastewater Treatment Department tested in the same location.  The DEP is better-equipped, but undermanned, to do an investigation, but maybe they could be persuaded to do so, given that the park has been shut down, and people seem ready to sock each over over this, not to mention that if there is a sewage line break, we'd all want to know if this is affecting people.


Secondly:  $350 fines for all types of littering used to be standard in many places.  $350 is a lot of money.


Thirdly:  There are options for dog owners who want their dogs to run freely.  There are dog parks outside of Rockland.  There are low cost day visit kennels.  There are open spaces less frequented by people.  There are backyards.  In all these scenarios, you still have to clean up the dog poo, and not let dogs pee on plants because the plants will die.  Dogs do not need to be on 50-feet retractable leashes to be happy.  Maximum 5-foot leashes around people doesn't bother the dog.  All dog owners benefit from attending training classes, and they aren't expensive.  It helps to remind them that they are in charge.


Back to the e.coli count:  let's get back to the e. coli count and source.



Posted by: Karin Ludewig | Jul 15, 2014 17:14

My wife and I have taken our dog to that park many times, and I did see a very few owners not clean up after their dog----so we scooped it up and told them they were not welcome back. Other dog owners we have talked to also clean up after the inconsiderate slobs as well, and they are made to feel active hostility to their foul behavior----as always, a few psychopaths spoil things for everyone else.

The problem is, psychopaths don't understand the English language. What they DO understand is being grabbed by the throat, lifted six inches off the ground and having their head banged on a wall until they see stars. THEN, you have their attention and can explain things to them. THAT, they usually understand, but not always, some need occasional reminders.

You have to explain things to people in the language they understand.

Walt Ludewig


Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jul 15, 2014 14:36

By the way, how disgusting is it that there's so much dog poop at a park that humans can't use it. But, no, dogs should be able to go anywhere. No, no, and no.

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jul 15, 2014 14:32

Really??!! Irresponsible dog owners??!! What are you, some kind of grouch who doesn't like dogs? Dogs should be able to go anywhere, anytime....right everyone?

By the way, I complained about there being no leash law sign at the beaches to Mr. Luttrell. I can't abide people who think they can let their dogs loose to get into whatever trouble they want. He said he'd definitely look into it, I'm counting on it.


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 15, 2014 14:02

I'll be glad when it reopens so my lawn won't be used by these jerks that are too inconsiderate to clean up after their dogs. If I know where they live I just bag it up and return it to them.

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Dan Dunkle
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.

Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast for 15 years.


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