GREAT BARRINGTON — Two local residents are speaking up about the mess unleashed dogs are leaving behind at St. Peter's Cemetery.
Maryella Bowens-Satinover told the Select Board on Monday night that she felt nothing was being done.
"I've brought my concerns of grave sites being disrespected over the past few years," she said. "And each year I leave feeling this is not an important issue."
Unleashed dogs are leaving stool on gravesites, Bowens-Satinover said. It's part of what she and resident Michelle Loubert see as a pattern of disrespect for the departed. Both women's fathers are buried in the town cemetery, located at 90 Stockbridge Road.
Loubert told the board she didn't understand why the town took the plastic bag bylaw, which bans the bags in Great Barrington retailers, seriously and not the dog-curbing bylaw seriously.
"No one shall allow a dog to be off-leash," Loubert said. "There's been a lot of debate about plastic bags and the spirit of the law, this is the letter of the law."
The comparison drew a chuckle from Select Board Chairman Sean Stanton, which set off an argument between him and Loubert over the law's enforcement and the Select Board's commitment to the cemetery.
Stanton said that the current enforcement regime of signage and occasional patrols was sufficient. In the eyes of the board, he said, what is being done is enough.
"You have to have selective enforcement of the law," Stanton said, striking a philosophical tone. "You can't pull everyone over for speeding, for example. You have to be selective."
The conflict remained unresolved at the end of the meeting, with both sides firmly entrenched in their positions and unwilling to compromise.
Bowens-Satinover and Loubert felt their concerns were not being taken seriously, while Stanton held that the town is doing enough to protect gravesites.
At the cemetery on Tuesday, Steve Parsons, the head groundskeeper, told the Eagle that worries over dogs in the cemetery are overblown. He said that the vast majority of people who use the cemetery for walking their dogs are respectful and clean up after themselves.
In addition, Parsons said, many people use the cemetery for running and walking. He pointed to traffic on the roads as a deterrent from using them for recreation.
"In today's society, the cemetery isn't as sacred as it used to be," said Parsons. "People use it for recreation now."
One of those runners is Selectman Steve Bannon, who mentioned his use of the cemetery to Loubert during the Select Board meeting in the context of enforcement.
"There are dogs in the cemetery when I go for a run," Bannon said. "If I stopped for every loose dog, I wouldn't get a run in."