Harrietstown says it can’t enforce jet ski ban

SARANAC LAKE – An Oseetah Lake resident wants the town of Harrietstown to ban jet skis from the Lower Locks to Lake Flower, but town officials say there’s no way they could enforce such a ban.

William Gunther, in a nine-page Aug. 30 letter to town Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua and members of the town board, said the “unmonitored use” of personal watercraft on the Saranac River below the locks, including on Oseetah and Kiwassa lakes and Lake Flower, is an “accident and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

“Is it going to take a serious injury, or possibly death, for the (town board) to realize that the river and well utilized small lakes are not the place for thrill seeking PWC users?” Gunther wrote. “There are very narrow areas, several sharp, blind turns in the river where excessive speeds are EXTREMELY dangerous. If the river and lakes cannot be policed sufficiently, then what other choice is there but to ban the worst and most dangerous offenders, the PWCs, from our waterways!”

“This is not in any way a political issue nor a request to hinder personal freedoms,” Gunther added. “It is a request for the board to stand up, foremost, for the safety of its residents and visitors, as well as protecting and providing for their enjoyment when they are on the water, in their homes along the water, and to protect the environment and wildlife, cut down on pollution, and maintain the ecological stability of the area in question.”

Bevilacqua told the Enterprise this week that the town doesn’t have the resources to enforce a jet ski ban.

“It’s a legitimate concern, but there’s only so much we can do as a town,” he said. “Harrietstown does not have the infrastructure to enforce something like that, and we don’t have the money to put into enforcement of that. I personally am not in favor of creating a law that can’t be enforced. It doesn’t seem to make much sense.”

Bevilacqua said he will write a letter to state Department of Environmental Conservation officials asking them to increase their boat patrols of the area, but he acknowledged that DEC’s resources are limited.

“Everybody’s strapped for money,” he said. “It’s tough to do that. And if they patrol this area more heavily, then they’re taking them away from another area where people are having problems.”

Gunther wrote that he approached DEC officials about increasing the department’s boat patrols below the locks but said he was told the department is concentrating more on patrolling Lower Saranac Lake and has limited time and personnel to allocate elsewhere.

Gunther’s letter was on the agenda at a town board meeting last week, but the board took no action on it, Bevilacqua said.

“There was no movement on the board to endorse a resolution to create a law banning jet skis,” he said.