Noise On Water Big Issue Again

A draft law restricting noise on Twin Lakes has been put on hold due to a manpower shortage that would render the law difficult to enforce, First Selectman Curtis Rand said Saturday. His comments came while addressing the Twin Lakes Association during a membership meeting at Isola Bella.

Last year, Rand said if the TLA crafted an ordinance addressing noise and safety issues he would bring it to a vote. The TLA later submitted a proposal including curbs on externally facing speakers, among other things. Without ability to enforce a new law, Rand said acting on it now would make no sense.

At the meeting, members of the TLA voiced a range of concerns over noise levels on the water, especially the playing of music over externally facing speakers in the late evening and beyond. Rand said the best option is for lake goers and property owners to approach those making the noise and ask them to be more respectful of others on the water and nearby shore.

If offenders repeatedly ignore such requests, lake goers should video the activity and photograph the boat to identify the offenders, and report the nuisance to town, Rand said. The manpower shortage stems from the state eliminating the constables that patrolled the waters in the past. That cut is likely permanent.

Several TLA members noted that self-enforcement of noisy boaters is problematic. In the past, offenders have been rude when approached, and did not change their behavior. People generally are uncomfortable approaching strangers and asking them to cease their activity. Without a law on the books that specifically prohibits certain activity, interveners are essentially asking for a favor that can be easily dismissed. Loud music after dark is often associated with excessive drinking, creating a potential backdrop for escalation during an intervention.

Rand said he would reconsider his position and investigate bringing the draft noise ordinance to a vote even though the town does not have the manpower to enforce it. That at least would give interveners something concrete with which to ask offenders to cease their activity.

In welcome news, state police said Twin Lakes will benefit from two part-time boat patrolmen this summer. They will stagger their patrol times and confront any nuisance boaters. The board recognized the difficulty Rand faces in dealing with the noise issue and thanked him for his efforts.

Members approved several large expenditures for weed control equipment to be used primarily in West Twin. The money has been raised privately by West Twin residents and is a separate line item in the budget. It will not draw on general operating funds raised through dues and general donations. 

The board called attention to an outbreak of zebra mussels in both lakes. These shellfish cling to anything left in the water and can damage boat engines. We will look more closely at this issue in a later newsletter. Boat owners are advised to run their boats at least every few days at high speed for a few minutes to clear the clinging creatures before they fully attach. Intermittent washing is also a good idea. 

Conservationist Tim Abbott spoke at the meeting for about 10 minutes, explaining the ecological importance of the watershed around Twin Lakes and the far-ranging impact of human activity—not just on Twin Lakes but on land far from our lakes and wetlands. He urged property owners to consider the impact of even simple, well-intended activities on their property. For instance, removing and replacing a shrub disturbs the soil and can lead to an expansion of unwanted invasive plants.

Abbott said one way to get property owners to pay attention to the impact of their actions is by taking a “walking tour” of their land and lands nearby with a conservationist and examining the ecological importance of various elements of their property. You would be amazed by the wealth of unseen activity that is all around, he said. He volunteered to lead such a tour for TLA.

To learn more about the watershed around Twin Lakes and beyond, visit the Housatonic Valley Association’s website.

The board reminded members that our third annual photo contest is under way. The theme is “activities” including just about any pastime you enjoy in the area. Contest entries have been an important source of photos for the website, and everyone is encouraged to enter. You may do so by replying to this email or posting on Instagram #TLAphoto2022.

Reminder: If you have not paid annual dues, now is good time. The cost is $25 per person. It’s easy on the TLA website.

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