An ordinance banning music on the water after 5 p.m. might be one way to address a rising noise problem on East Twin Lake, said First Selectman Curtis Rand. His comment came at the June 19 membership meeting of the Twin Lakes Association. Water safety and lake noise were hot topics among the 50-plus TLA members in attendance.
An after-hours prohibition on music has never been discussed at an official level, Rand said in an email follow-up. He isn’t certain how it would work or be enforced. But like the TLA board, he is searching for answers. Many in the lake community have contacted the board about noise and safety issues. Other potential strategies, such as measuring decibels or banning externally facing (typically tower) speakers, pose enforcement challenges but have not been ruled out.
Officer Mike Brenner of the state police water patrol acknowledged the noise issue, saying that music from tower speakers on some ski boats can be heard across the lake. He and Rand said there isn’t a lot the Town can do about such noise under current law and encouraged lake goers to politely ask offending boaters to turn down the volume.
Noise is rarely an issue while police are on the water, Brenner said. The mere presence of a patrol discourages disruptive behavior. But the state does not have resources to be on the water all day, he said.
Lake goers who witness unruly activity should call State Police and report the disruption as soon as they see it, Brenner said. Do not call 911 unless someone is in danger, he said. The proper number to call is 860-435-2938. That goes to resident state trooper Ken Pelletier and if there is no answer bounces to the Troop B dispatcher in Canaan. You can also call Troop B direct at 860-626-1820, option 7. Both of these numbers are on the emergency page of the TLA website.
Brenner cautioned that police cannot act on a complaint without a description of the offending boat. That means taking note of things like the make and color and whether it has a tower and if the motor is outboard or inboard, and how many people are on board. The more detail the better. Snap a photo or take video if you can. Rand said he would review any evidence of bad behavior and use it to identify the boat owner, who would then get a personal visit from him or the police.
Meeting minutes are posted on the TLA website.
A proposal from the Salisbury Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission to expand the Upland Review Area was another topic of interest during the meeting. Grant Bogle, TLA president, said the organization has taken no formal position on the proposal but added that the board believes it is in the interest of the community to have a broader conversation about the rules and their possible unintended consequences.
Selectman Rand said he believes members of the Wetlands Commission are dug in on the expansion from 75 feet to 200 feet of review area, but the Town is committed to finding a process that does not create an undue burden on homeowners. Most Twin Lakes homes have lots that fall entirely or largely within the proposed area of review. Many lakefront homeowners simply want to maintain their yards without needing permission to, say, mulch a flower bed, plant a garden or replant landscaping. One concern is that seeking such permission would require the costly services of engineers, landscape architects and surveyors.
For more on this hotly debated subject please visit the Salisbury Lakes Homeowners website, which has important documents including three letters to town authorities and a legal opinion on the burdens the proposal would put on homeowners.
Underlying much of the discussion around the Wetlands Commission proposal for expanded review authority is a rash of clear cutting that has occurred on or near both Lakeville Lake and Twin Lakes. Salisbury has seen an influx of weekenders and full-time residents, many of whom are building or renovating homes. The discretionary parts of the proposed wetlands rules are in large part a response to projects like one on Taconic Road near Preston Lane, a clear-cut that TLA members often cite even though town officials say the owners have all needed approvals.
This and other recent clearings illustrate how the proposed wetlands rules fail to address a primary concern of the community: halting deforestation of large spaces throughout the area. The Taconic Road project is far enough from water or wetlands to be outside the proposed expanded area of review. So, even if those rules were in effect that project would have been permitted. Several TLA members voiced concern about such clearing projects and asked what could be done. Selectman Rand said the state has few rules regarding cutting trees and the town has little authority to step in. He said the issue must be taken up at the state level. Some in attendance indicated they would like to see the community organize a lobby effort with the Town’s support.
The TLA has yet to receive a permit from the state to apply herbicides this year, despite having applied in a timely fashion. Time is running short, Bill Barton, TLA executive vice president, told the gathering. Lake treatments must be finished by June 30, he said. Timely approval has become a yearly issue and the board is looking for ways to expedite the process now and in the future.
Meanwhile, lobbyists for the American School for the Deaf are working on the TLA’s behalf. The ASD, which owns the Isola Bella campgrounds, has a keen interest in minimizing invasive weeds as does the rest of the lake community. ASD Executive Director Jeff Bravin is on the TLA board.
The ASD planned renovation of campgrounds on Isola Bella was presented at the meeting. Bravin said he hopes to begin work this fall. ASD has begun raising funds for the $400,000 project and the TLA board is exploring ways to support the school. A key aspect of the renovation will be cabins for 72 additional campers over the course of the summer.
ASD plans to:
- Build two additional handicap-accessible cabins (one cabin for female campers, the second for male campers).
- Renovate two existing bathrooms to include handicap shower and toilet facilities, as well as handicap-accessible ramp access into the buildings.
- Enclose the existing covered patio, which is part of the camp house building, to increase available dining facilities for additional campers.
- Replace the pavilion roof, which provides a large indoor space for campers to gather when the weather is not suitable for outdoor activity and is in a state of disrepair.
- Complete an electrical upgrade for the camp, which is necessary for the completion of all outlined projects.
So far, ASD has raised $175,000. You can find more about the renovation and the camp and its mission, including a detailed historyof Isola Bella, on the ASD website.
The TLA went live with a Twitter account this month. It’s easy to sign up for an account of your own and then follow @twinlakesassoc2. Look for our logo to make sure you are following the right feed. If enough members get involved this will be a great way to communicate instantly about things like lost and found items, dangerous or rare animal sightings, last-minute lake treatments and more. Since going live, we have tweeted updates about meeting schedules and agendas, actions taken by the board, information on Libraries Love Lakes programming and the planned renovation at Camp Isola Bella. You are missing all of that without a Twitter account. You can find recent tweets on the TLA website homepage. But to get the most out of the Twitter feed you will need your own account. We suggest you give it a try.
Finally, July 4 is fast approaching. Remember to document your reunions and celebrations with photos and submit them via Instagram at #TLAphoto2021. Winning shots will be posted on the TLA homepage in August. There is also a $50 prize.