Lake Quinsigamond Commission cracks down on jet skis; no ban

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Lake Quinsigamond Commission cracks down on jet skis; no ban
A jet ski rider races along Lake Quinsigamond. The commission will be increasing policing, enforcement and communication following reports of bad behavior on the lake. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SHREWSBURY – Jet skis will continue to be allowed on Lake Quinsigamond, but they’ll have a shorter leash.

During the Lake Quinsigamond Commission’s Feb. 29 meeting, officials opted to table the banning of jet skis, instead choosing to significantly increase policing, enforcement and communication to stop bad behavior on the lake.

In July, residents voiced concerns about an increase in jet ski activity on Lake Quinsigamond. The residents alleged that some of the jet ski users were excessively loud, disruptive, inconsiderate and operating the devices recklessly, endangering other lake users.

Most of the problematic jet ski users do not live on the lake, officials have said at previous meetings. Although law enforcement has tried to stop the offenders, the dangerous behavior continues in what some residents have called “a game of cat and mouse.”

On Nov. 8, the Lake Quinsigamond Commission held an open public meeting regarding jet-ski usage. At several points, representatives on the commission noted a complete jet ski ban was on the table.

The meeting garnered mixed feedback, with many community members asking for only Lake Quinsigamond residents to be able to use jet skis on the lake. The commission decided to form a subcommittee to study the issue and examine any potential action. That subcommittee met on Feb. 1 and Feb. 15.

“The real purpose of the subcommittee is to see what we’re going to do to make the lake safer. When I say safer, it’s not just safer for the residents, [which is] an important thing, but safer for anyone who uses the lake [like] law enforcement … We have some good ideas to do here that we’ve talked about, and with my mind I’m ready to take these ideas and proposals and plans from law enforcement and go to the commission and say, ‘We should give this a shot,’ ” said Commission Chair Peter Collins on Feb. 15.

The commission hopes to crack down on jet skis early and often in an attempt to ensure only safe, well-meaning individuals use the waterway. At the meeting, members of the commission mentioned ramp enforcement, more officials patrolling the water and better communication between the four governmental agencies responsible for the lake.

The Lake Quinsigamond Commission will monitor the situation over the coming months. Changes could still be made.

“If we continue to have complaints, if we continue to see an overwhelming disregard for rules and regulations and general politeness on the lake, we will revisit this,” said Collins.

The commission can also exercise Rule 29 and Rule 30 at any time; the rules impose yearlong bans on operators and watercraft if the commission finds “the person operated a vessel in a manner that was negligent or endangered the public.” The rules have been implemented before but not often.

“I’m willing to do it as much as we can,” said Collins on Feb. 15.

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