A proposed bylaw banning personal watercrafts from Peters Pond is expected to receive overwhelming support from residents at a public meeting Wednesday, October 20, said the director of the department of natural resources.
The meeting will be held at 5 PM in Hamilton Hall at Oak Crest Cove by the Department of Natural Resources and the Sandwich Harbormaster. The public is encouraged to attend.
The revised waterways bylaw was first proposed to selectman in February by Natural Resources Director David J. DeConto.
Over the last decade, the department received nearly 50 complaints a year of personal watercraft operators speeding and operating recklessly near boaters and swimmers. In the last three years, the severity of the complaints has increased, with five to six near-misses reported by kayakers and swimmers, Mr. DeConto said.
“We’ve been asked by the public over the last couple of years to please do this,” he said. “The pond is too small, there are too many users and they are too fast and too powerful to operate in small areas.”
On September 5, a 10-year-old girl was struck by a personal watercraft at the pond while she was swimming near her boat. She was uninjured.
“This is dangerous for the operators (of personal watercrafts) too. They’re not wearing helmets and they’re not protected from the hull of a boat like other vessels are,” Mr. DeConto said.
Both Mashpee and Barnstable have banned personal watercrafts at some of their ponds, all double the size of Peters Pond, Mr. DeConto said. The National Seashore does not allow personal watercrafts to operator within their borders.
Back in February, the bylaw change also included an increase in boat engine horsepower from 15 to 25 on Lawrence Pond, Triangle Pond, Spectacle Pond and Snake Pond. However, after several emails and calls from concerned residents unhappy with the change, the proposed increase was removed from the bylaw modification, Mr. DeConto said.
Wednesday's public meeting is to gather public comment in advance of the personal watercraft ban heading to the Special Town Meeting on Monday, November 15.
If approved, the ban could go into effect as early as next summer.