As I See It
Friday, May 7, 2010

Why the indecision on Glen Lake?

On April 12, 2010, I submitted a proposal to the Board of Selectmen for addressing what most of us here in Goffstown know to be a serious problem at the Glen Lake Waterfront.  We are all too familiar with trash, alcohol use, parking problems and other issues over there, and most of us also know the vast majority of visitors to the Waterfront are not residents of Goffstown.

It is the residents, however, who shoulder the financial burden of maintenance and upkeep, yet few of us can ever find an empty parking space or a clean area to spread a blanket for an enjoyable afternoon family picnic.

What I proposed to selectmen was to either 1) restrict parking - and access to the park - to residents only, or 2) institute a system of paid parking for non-residents.  Here's a quick breakdown of each:

  • RESTRICT PARKING.  This is the quickest solution with the smallest initial cost.  As the Waterfront has only 18 parking spaces (two of them handicapped spaces) for roughly 18,000 residents, simply posting signs every few parking spaces saying something like "Waterfront Park Restricted to Residents Only - Transfer Station sticker required for parking"  would go a long way towards opening up parking for residents, but also helping to eliminate the undesirable element that currently frequents the beach area altogether.

    It is important to note that the restriction should go beyond restricting parking spaces to residents only; it must also restrict the park itself to residents only.  Otherwise, parking will continue to spill over into nearby neighborhoods, the kindergarten parking lot and other areas of Elm Street where parking is illegal.

  • PAID PARKING.  Although the initial investment for establishing a paid parking system for non-residents is higher, this solution has the potential to produce a revenue stream for the town that will help offset the costs of maintenance and upkeep.  A payphone-sized self-ticketing kiosk can be purchased for under $2,000 and could pay for itself in less that one season.  Thereafter, any revenue is a windfall for taxpayers.

    Under such a system, non-residents would be allowed to use the Waterfront, but would be required to pay to park along Elm Street.  Residents, on the other hand, would simply display a Transfer Station sticker and park for free.  I believe many non-residents would likely find other places to frequent rather than pay $10-$15 for a parking space at Glen Lake.  Also, this would likely help keep the many bicyclists who park sometimes five or six cars at Glen Lake on a Saturday morning, take their bicycles off their racks, put on their go-fast suits and take off, tying up those spaces for the day.

You can read further details on this proposal by clicking here.

With either solution (or if selectmen choose to do nothing at all), one this is clear:  Police enforcement must be stepped up.  The current Glen Lake Beach Ordinance already prohibits alcohol, glass containers and littering, and all of those provisions are already being violated on a daily basis

It is important to note that any parking plan - or Waterfront access restriction - would not include the boat ramp or the seven parking spaces across the street designated for vehicles towing trailers.  As such, the boat ramp and related spaces would be open to both residents and non-residents alike.  I have no problem with this, as boaters and fishermen are not the cause of the parking issues, trash problems and ordinance violations at the waterfront.


What I'm wondering about is:  What's the holdup?  The Goffstown News, in two editorials over the last three weeks, has come out in full support of the plan.  So has selectman Steve Fournier.  And both selectmen Nick Campasano and chairman Scott Gross acknowledged the problems at Glen Lake and indicated their support for the plan, or parts of it, as well.

Perhaps the delay in making a decision is due to Gross' recent absences from a couple meetings - selectmen may be waiting for a full board before making a decision.  In the meantime, both selectmen David Pierce and Phil D'Avanza, have come out against institution of the plan, but so far neither has offered alternative solutions.

D'Avanza's "concerns" are particularly confusing.  He has harped on what have proven to be three non-issues:

  1. He didn't want to restrict access to the boat ramp because, he stated, it is owned by the state.  This is wrong.  A quick phone call by Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux quickly proved that fear to be unfounded.  I called them myself as well.  The boat ramp is owned by the Town of Goffstown, not the state, and although no one except D'Avanza has mentioned restricting the ramp itself to residents-only, it appears we could do so if we so chose.  I personally recommend we don't.

  2. D'Avanza said a residents-only restriction would mean NH Marine Patrol would no longer cover Glen Lake.  This is also wrong.  I spoke to an administrator and three Marine Patrol officers about this claim.  They have all confirmed that NH Marine Patrol has jurisdiction over every public body of water in New Hampshire larger than 10 acres in size, regardless of whether there is a town beach on it or not.  As the administrator told me, "We could care less if you have a residents-only beach or not.  We are still responsible for enforcing the law on the lake, and would continue to do so regardless of what the town decides to do with the beach."

  3. D'Avanza said a residents-only restriction meant NH Fish and Game would no longer stock the lake.  Wrong here, too.  I spoke to NH Fish and Game myself, along with two of their conservation officers, about this.  Not only did they all confirm this was not the case, but one officer cited eight or nine examples (Gilford, Sandwich, Meredith, to name a few) of towns who restrict access to their town beaches using what they called "dump stickers", and are still patrolled and stocked by Fish and Game year after year.  According to all of them, Glen Lake would be no different. 

So let's get with it, Phil.  And I think Mr. Pierce needs to consider the best interests of the taxpayers for whom the Waterfront at Glen Lake was created in the first place as well.  If you don't like the current proposals or suggestions, then come up with a better one.  But don't turn a blind eye to the problem.

Summer is already right around the corner, and Goffstown's residents must be provided access to one of our most beautiful natural resources instead of footing the bill for out-of-towners who visit - and often just trash - the Glen Lake Waterfront park.

Selectman Fournier has it right - there's no need for "further study" or other delays.  It's time for selectmen to do something about it before another season goes by the wayside.


Guy Caron can be reached via e-mail at:

Past Columns by Guy Caron  >>>


DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Caron are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members.

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