Some on lake decry noise

Some Mountain Lake residents are asking the Town Board to ban the use of personal watercraft on the
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Some Mountain Lake residents are asking the Town Board to ban the use of personal watercraft on the lake, citing safety, noise and environmental concerns.

But others say that personal watercraft use is very limited and property owners should have the right to bring the motorcycle-sized vessels — popularly referred to by Kawasaki’s trademarked name Jet Ski — onto the lake.

The Town Board is expected to schedule a public hearing in October to discuss the issue further. Meanwhile, a survey has been sent out to about 110 property owners in the area to gauge support for such a ban.

About 55 lakefront property owners have access rights to the 43-acre lake; no single entity owns the actual body of water.

“Because of the size of the lake, it is virtually impossible to operate a Jet Ski in the fashion for which they were designed,” said Janet Koelbel, who lives in Greenfield Center but spends much of the summer months at a lakefront home. “I think it’s inappropriate.”

Dennis Wentworth, the president of the Mountain Lake Campers Association and a lakefront property owner, said there’s only about three or four hours of personal watercraft use on the lake every year.

“I just don’t see a need to put controls on a perceived problem that really doesn’t exist,” he said. “If there were 15 Jet Skis on here all weekend, I would say it would probably get a little tough to operate [but] it’s unusual if there are two out here at a time.”

The association owns a small beach that is available to members and also owns the dam that regulates water flow from the lake into the Lake Edward.

He said about 10 of his 46 members are people who own property near the lake and use the beach to access it. Annual membership costs $50.

Town Board member Beth Schloicka said she wants to hear more from the people near the lake before making a decision on whether a ban on personal watercraft there would be a good idea.

“Obviously this is a very heated issue for those involved,” she said. “At the last meeting, it became more clear that it wasn’t cut and dry.”

Koelbel’s husband, Paul, said he has been working to ban personal watercraft on the lake since an 11-year-old girl was hit by one while swimming in 1993. The girl was taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries, he said.

He also said that he counted about 130 non-motorized watercraft on or around the lake and that one fast-moving personal watercraft would drive any non-motorized boats or swimmers out of the lake.

“The noise [from personal watercrafts] is magnified because of the geographic shape and position of the lake,” Janet Koelbel said. “It’s like a bowl and the sound travels up constantly.”

The current unofficial policy at the lake allows motorized watercraft on the lake from 1 to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Weekday use is not restricted.

Wentworth said that one compromise would be to have specific hours for personal watercraft, but Janet Koelbel said she didn’t think a compromise would be an option.

“There’s about five people on each side of this situation that are very firm in their convictions,” Wentworth said. “No matter what the town does, that small group of people on each side of the situation are not going to change their minds.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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