Commentary: Free the Reservoir


Dear Editor:

Now that winter is behind us and summer has arrived, a storm cloud brews over the beautiful pond that locals call the Rez. The Canton Reservoir is a public, town-owned, 300-acre body of water that has about 40 residents along its borders and municipal and state land along the western shore. Today the town allows the 40 families unlimited access, without restriction as to use, while affording the rest of the town minimum access and a ban on motorized access. The access that has been provided to the public is minimal — only allowing canoes or kayaks — and makes it difficult for able-bodied persons, let alone persons with disabilities the opportunity to use the pond.

Reservoir Pond from Pleasant Street (Courtesy of George Comeau)

Reservoir Pond from Pleasant Street (Courtesy of George Comeau)

Meanwhile, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is providing towns with modern boat ramps at no cost, yet the Board of Selectmen have yet to take the state up on this offer. We deserve the same access to a modern boat ramp that is being created in towns across the state.

The town has created two classes of citizens in this public recreation area. They have placed signs prohibiting power boats, yet the residents along Reservoir Pond regularly unload power boats from their property, occasionally bringing new boats in regardless of issues related to invasive water plants.

The Conservation Commission has placed boulders on town areas to prohibit boat launching, while many of the resident abutters launch their boats from ramps. Please create a set of rules that everyone can abide by and enjoy the outdoors. Take a moment to consider the approach of our close neighbor, Sharon, where they have a great mix of public and private use on Lake Massapoag — only 50 acres larger than the Canton Reservoir. Sharon has very reasonable rules and regulations on a comparable body of water. Canton should not sit on their hands hoping that this problem will go away.

My suggestions are as follows:

1. Please remove the boulders and make Reservoir Pond truly accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as for other avid boaters. Allow boaters to drive to the water’s edge and drop their non-motorized boats in. Even placing the boulders closest to the water’s edge rather than the over football field length that they are now would help tremendously.

2. Urge the Recreation and Conservation commissions to work together and write a proposal for an enhanced recreational area that includes a boat ramp and boat-washing station. Money from the Community Preservation Act and state-funded boat launch is available for this purpose. The town can have a first-class canoe and kayak launch.

3. Ask the selectmen to set rules specifying the size and power limits for the Reservoir that match the scope of the pond and allow both non-motorized boats and the power boats that are on the pond now. Also, eliminate jet skis that are hazardous to swimmers and create a public liability.

4. Finally, our town should reach out to the state’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access, part of the Department of Fish and Game. This department has been building ramps for towns all over the state at no cost to the towns, and as such they may be a resource for how other towns manage access.

This problem is not going away. So please free the Rez!

Jonathan Comeau

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avatar Posted by on Jun 25 2015. Filed under Featured Content, From One Citizen to Another, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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