EASTHAM — What began as an effort to improve safety in tidal creek areas by revising boating bylaws has churned up discord among residents over water skiing and motorboat use on Great Pond.
“Our intention was not to go and change the regulation for the motorboating and water skiing on Great Pond, but we went ahead and changed the hours [for water skiing] as a compromise,” said project and procurement director Shana Brogan at last Monday’s public hearing on the proposed changes. “We received a lot of feedback requesting us to eliminate 50-horsepower engines on Great Pond.”
The revisions would change the start time for water skiing from 7 to 10 a.m. and set the ending time at 6 p.m. or a half hour before sunset. The current rules simply say a half hour before sunset.
Forty-four letters about the boating bylaws were submitted for the hearing. Most were about the change in hours, divided between those opposing the change and those supporting it and calling for even greater restrictions.
Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe, after reading the letters, said she saw themes that needed to be addressed.
“It’s not about days and times, really,” she said. “They’re about the people who don’t appreciate water skiing telling us very clearly that we don’t enforce the regulations we have now.”
Signage at the boat launch was also seen as insufficient, she noted.
“Maybe the problem isn’t as big if we actually enforce the rules we already have,” said Beebe. “It’s not going to be that expensive for us to get two more bodies at Great Pond with a boat to enforce these bylaws. That’s been long overdue.”
While board member Al Cestaro suggested delaying any action on the boating and water skiing regulations at Great Pond until the effects of increased resources deployed there could be measured, chair Jamie Demetri disagreed and supported a compromise: changing only the water skiing start time to 10 a.m.
“I don’t think 10 a.m. is crazy,” said Demetri, “and it goes late enough into the evening that it can be somewhat accommodating.”
The board tabled the issue for further discussion at its April 26 meeting and will, in the interim, ask town counsel’s opinion on presenting the water skiing bylaw changes and changes to saltwater wake zones as separate articles on the warrant.
“They’re completely different issues,” said board member Jared Collins.