Boat launch fee shouldn’t cause waves

THE BOAT LAUNCH at the Town Beach is reserved for Naples taxpayers. However, if passed at the Town Meeting, the use could be offered to nonresidents for a fee. (De Busk Photo)

THE BOAT LAUNCH at the Town Beach is reserved for Naples taxpayers. However, if passed at the Town Meeting, the use could be offered to nonresidents for a fee. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Last summer, out-of-towners and out-of-staters were turned away from the Naples Town Beach boat launch.

However, it is possible that some people not owning property in Naples, or staying with Naples friends, launched their boats while the area was not being manned.

“An informal survey of boat launches at Kent’s Landing in August revealed that over half of the 300 launches were nonresidents and nontaxpayers. Nonresidents and nontaxpayers were only turned away when a town employee was present and were typically given a warning for use of the boat launch the first time,” Naples Town Manager Eprhem Paraschak said.

Unlike the public dock extending from the Causeway, the Town Beach and Kent’s Landing is for Naples residents only. A town ordinance supports that.

Use of the boat launch, too, is reserved for property taxpayers.

This summer, a new policy could be in place that would allow boaters who are not residents of Naples to launch into Long Lake from the Town Beach.

And, like so many things in life, the use of the boat launch won’t be free.

A proposed boat launch user’s fee would provide the town with a source of revenue to offset the maintenance of the docks and other facilities at the Town Beach, Paraschak said.

Whether or not that happens will be up to residents at the Naples Town Meeting on Monday, June 1. The annual meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Town Gymnasium.

The language of the warrant article would allow the Naples Board of Selectmen to decide what dates are best to extend use of the boat launch to nonresidents, and subsequently bring in revenue for the recreational area.

On the other side of the coin, the article — if passed — would give discretion to the selectmen to blackout dates that are too busy to accommodate additional boat traffic.

The board reviewed the warrant article during its regular meeting on Monday, along with a draft of the upcoming budget for 2015–16 fiscal year.

Paraschak said the warrant articles had been reviewed by town counsel.

While the property taxpayers of Naples can continue to use the boat launch for free, residents of other Maine towns and other states would be charged to launch from that spot, Paraschak said.

When the town purchased Kent’s Landing in 2010, it did so with taxpayer money.

As the Town Beach was expanded and improved, the town’s people decided the space would be solely used by residents.

Last summer, it was difficult to control who used the boat launch, Paraschak said.

If a user fee is established, there will be a policy in place for use of that waterfront facility.

“The user fee for nonresidents and nontaxpayers will also offset the cost of having attendants at the boat launch seven days a week to monitor use and perform mandatory inspections for milfoil,” he said.

The Town Beach, which encompasses Kent’s Landing, will continue to be for Naples residents only, Paraschak emphasized.

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