Signs to let boaters know of shallow water at Kent’s Landing

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The water levels at Kent’s Landing are the opposite of that 1974 Johnny Cash song, “How high is the water momma?

While the shallow water might be great for the comfort levels of watchful mothers whose children haven’t learned to swim yet, it is not always suitable for launching motorized marine vessels. In fact, someone recently bent their boat propeller at the site.

The water levels at Kent’s Landing were a topic of discussion at the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday.

Not much can be done except to erect signs letting boaters know that the water levels are low, according to Naples Town Manager John Hawley.

“Recently, we had a citizen launch his boat and damaged his props,” Hawley said. “He was looking for compensation. But, I told him that the town isn’t liable,” he said.

“He thought we should do a better job at notifying citizens,” he said.

Hawley said a few signs had been ordered to warn boaters that the water is shallow at the boat launch and that they will be launching at their own risk.

The fact is the water is shallow there, and that won’t change “unless the state allows us to dredge it,” Selectman Bob Caron II said.

Chairman Jim Grattelo shared an opinion he had expressed before.

“If the state had put in the boat launch, they would have found a way to dredge it and made it deeper. The state would not have put in that boat launch,” where the water is too shallow for most motorized boats.

Grattelo was referring to the point in time when residents in Naples turned down the Department of Inland Fisheries’ offer to pay for and manage a public boat launch at Kent’s Landing, which was in the process of being purchased by the town. In 2009, the members of a committee formed to review the purchase and use of Kent’s Landing insisted that the town maintain control over the beach. The town refused to accept the state funding because taking the money would have meant opening the beach to everyone — out-of-staters and out-of-towners included.

Currently, only Naples residents and their guests are allowed to use the Town Beach, per town ordinance.

However, when it comes to allowing nonresidents to use the boat launch, the town has reversed stances several times this summer. It was off limits to nonresidents; then, the town resumed with charging a launch fee to nonresidents.

One aspect of the discussion about whether or not to allow this is: the town does not want to compete with small, seasonal businesses that offer boat launching services.

On the other hand, the Kent’s Landing boat launch fee helps to offset the cost of milfoil inspectors there.

Caron returned to the topic of the terrain, the shallow water, at the Town Beach and Kent’s Landing.

“You have to go out 100 feet to get over your head. That whole area is a shallow area. It has been shallow there since I was a kid,” Caron said.

Also, Caron said that dredging was most likely out of the question.

At the same time, it was mentioned that maybe the town should contact the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to see if dredging were a possibility.

Selectman Jim Turpin toyed with the idea of moving the boat launch to the northwest side of the beach in the swimmers’ area where the water is slightly deeper, and swapping the swim area to where the dock is.

That would likely prove to be more difficult than dredging. Plus, the infrastructure such as the paved roadway and the underwater concrete boat launch are already in place on the right side of the property.

Naples residents Roger Clement suggested a simple solution.

“Close it. It’s one less place for milfoil to get in,” Clement said.

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