Boat registration fees and dock regulations for Saratoga Lake proposed earlier this summer are getting a frigid reception.
“There’s a lot of angry people out there,” said Tom Carringi, owner of Point Breeze Marina on Route 9P.
“It’s not going to work, it will hurt business, it will hurt real estate,” he said.
All the marinas around the five-mile-long recreational lake are opposed to the boat permit fees and dock regulations, as are most of the people who live on the lake, Carringi said.
“This is ridiculous. It’s just going to be a business killer. It will directly affect every one of my customers,” said Tim Blodgett, owner of Saratoga Tackle, a fishing equipment store on Route 9P.
Edward Dweck, chairman of the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District, said the idea of charging a registration fee for power boats has been discussed by the district commissioners, off and on, for years.
He stressed that the draft dock regulations and boat registration fees are just proposals. He said the plans will be the subject of public hearings and will be revised according to comments made at the yet-to-be-scheduled hearings.
“We would like to get this thing through and be fair with everybody,” Dweck said.
The boat registration fees, which the protection and improvement district describes as “lake user fees,” would help pay for the district’s ongoing work to protect the lake from Eurasian milfoil, which can clog the shorelines and boating lanes and make boating and swimming difficult.
The district owns and operates floating weed harvesters to remove weeds from the lake and also applies government-approved chemicals to kill the milfoil.
The dock regulations place a limitation on the number of docks related to the amount of shoreline a person owns “and a simple but effective set of standards for docks, moorings and marinas,” says the district’s website (www.slpid.org).
If there is a “consensus of support” for the draft regulations after the hearings they will be forwarded to the city of Saratoga Springs and three towns (Stillwater, Malta and Saratoga) around the lake for the passage of local laws of support. In the case of the boat registration fees, the towns will have to approve them before they are forwarded to the state for its approval as amendments to the existing state legislation that created the lake protection and improvement district more than 30 years ago.
“It’s got a long way to go,” Dweck said about the lake fee proposals. He said the process will take “a couple of years.”
The proposed fee schedule includes a registration fee for petroleum-fueled boats in three categories:
• A transient lake user who does not have a permanent dock arrangement on the lake would pay a daily ($7.50) or weekly ($10) fee.
• A resident of the lake taxation district would not pay a permit or registration fee for the first three boats the person owns but Dweck said this may be extended to no permit fee for all the boats the resident owns.
• Non-district lake users — including all lot or parcel owners who have dock rights on the lake but don’t pay protection and improvement district taxes — would pay an annual fee of $30 for a power boat less than 21 feet; $50 for a boat between 21 and 30 feet long; and $75 for a boat over 30 feet long.
Dweck said the proposed boat registration fees are based on a system being used for Lake George.
Blodgett said when Lake George instituted its permit and registration fee program some years ago, many boaters who had been using Lake George came to Saratoga Lake instead.
“They are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Blodgett said he doesn’t think the lake protection and improvement district will be able to collect enough in registration fees to make the program worthwhile.
He also said the proposed dock regulations are unfair and charged that the district is trying to dictate the number of boats on a dock.
“Who are they to tell you or me the numbers of boats we have on our dock?” he said.