Proper lake addresses is an issue at Congamond


SOUTHWICK- Lake Management Committee (LMC) member Norm Cheever said Aug. 26 that he would like to improve the process of getting lake addresses on the docks of Congamond Lake residents after he did a study that showed significant non compliance in both Southwick and Suffield, CT.

Cheever had conducted a study by going around the lake and checking the registration of all docks, boats, buoys, and lake objects. He said that he personally inventoried 933 docks, boats, floats, buoys and moorings owned by lakeside residents on both the Massachusetts and Connecticut sides of the lake.

The lake address signs that some lake residents are missing are the same concept as a street number that one must visibly display somewhere in the front of their house. In the event that somebody in a boat or vessel on the lake is having an emergency, the address numbers can be relayed to emergency responders to help them quickly locate the emergency. When houses on the lake do not have these signs, it can be difficult for one to convey where exactly they are on the lake to dispatch help.

Of those 933 vessels, only 474 had the proper stickers, meaning that 429 of them are in violation, according to Cheever. Those 429 violations occurred across 183 different addresses in both states. Cheever estimated that the loss of income to Southwick from these violations was $6,162.

The Southwick Conservation Commission had sent a letter to people in violation in both Southwick and Suffield, which apparently prompted complaints from some Suffield residents when they received a violation letter from another town in another state.

Southwick and Suffield have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for Congamond Lake dock fees. It was signed in 2018 and expires in 2023. Each year, Suffield pays a slightly increased fee from the previous year to Southwick. In July, Suffield paid $2,400 for 2021.

Suffield City Attorney Derek Donnelly said during the Aug. 24 Select Board meeting that getting proper registration and boat addresses is important, even from a public safety standpoint, but that Suffield residents felt that the letter was a heavy handed approach.

“What we would like to avoid is 30 angry residents calling the first selectman’s office,” said Donnelly.

Former Conservation Commission Coordinator Dennis Clark apologized to Donnelly during the Select Board meeting for the letters that were sent to suffield residents. He said that if he had been consulted, he would have advised against it.

Select Board member Russell Fox said that he would like Donnelly, Select Board member Douglas Moglin, the harbormaster, the Lake Management Committee, and the Conservation Commission to form a group to work together to figure out how to get higher levels of compliance and to get lake residents to properly display their lake addresses.

Cheever said that LMC members need to “step up their vigilance” and talk to their neighbors to try to spread the word about the need for lake vessel compliance and proper dock registration. He said also that when the MOA expires in 2023, Southwick needs to negotiate a more favorable contract.

“We did not do a good job negotiating that contract. We need to do better for next time,” said Cheever.

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