An article proposed by the Mashpee Waterways Commission for the October Town Meeting would create a bylaw banning jet-ski use at Ashumet Pond, a small water body that rests on the border of Mashpee and Falmouth.
Falmouth already has a bylaw in the books that bans jet skiing at Ashumet, but Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection does not; nor does Mashpee.
Gregg Fraser, harbormaster in Falmouth, said he hopes that if Mashpee—the owner of the majority of the pond—passes its own bylaw, the MassDEP might be more inclined to pass a law outlawing jet skis at Ashumet.
With a state ban, environmental police could lend an enforcement hand when it comes to the complaints more often than not fielded by the Falmouth harbormaster’s office.
“We get complaints quite frequently because the boat ramp is on Sandwich Road in Falmouth,” Mr. Fraser said. The complaints are typically for jet ski drivers speeding in general, or for drivers speeding close to swimmers, and for clogging up the boat ramp.
Like Mashpee, Falmouth’s limited resources are spent patrolling the southern part of town on the ocean, rather than the small pond. But Mr. Fraser said they do receive several complaints about jet skis there, and they do respond. Having the state help enforce the issue would give Falmouth a hand.
Richard H. York Jr., director of Mashpee Department of Natural Resources, said his department does not have regular patrols on the pond either and that Falmouth typically receives complaints on the use of jet skis. But he has heard from residents who live in the area who would favor a ban.
The Mashpee natural resources director said there could be some opposition to the article; he was unsure.
Mr. Fraser said that because of the size of the pond, jet ski use is already prohibitive. The pond is only 200 acres. Per state law, jet skis can only reach headway speeds when at least 150 feet from a swimmer or from the coast. The restriction limits the area for jet skiing, at least at higher speeds, to only a small section of the pond.
The Mashpee Board of Selectmen, who set the warrant for the October Town Meeting, still have a few questions before including the article.
A number of board members had not heard of any complaints about jet skis, so they wanted to hear from their natural resources department before supporting the bylaw change.