Ossipee — September 14, 2005 — What does Long Sands look like on a typical summer weekend?
Selectman Harry Merrow questions how people can see the proposed town beach on Ossipee Lake as something that will disturb or threaten natural and historic resources, since the beach has been a hub of activity on the lake each summer for years.
On Monday, selectmen approved a contract for a natural resources inventory to be made of the land they propose to use as a town beach. Photographer Mellisa Ferland spent a couple hours in the air on Saturday documenting the use of the state owned beach, as well as other parts of Ossipee Lake.
Pilot Glenn Mori, who lives in Windsock Village, an aviation community in Ossipee, volunteered to take Ferland up in his airplane to photograph the beach. Ferland said the flight took place in the middle of Saturday afternoon (beginning at about 2 p.m.), and included Ossipee Lake in general, as well as other parts of the town and surrounding communities. Although there were also many boats at the sand bar at Spindle Point, nowhere on Ossipee Lake was there more activity than at Long Sands, Ferland said.
“There were barely any people on the lake itself. It seemed like everything was congregated right there,” she said.
Photographs show a beach crowded with people, and dozens of boats anchored in the water and more pulled up on shore. There are no bathrooms or other facilities along the stretch of shoreline and it is currently accessed only by boat.
Merrow, who has forwarded copies of the photos to the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, said the beach has been a hub of activity on the lake for more than 30 years.
The proposed beach would take up only a small portion (600 feet) of the 3,600 feet of state-owned shoreline. That portion of beach would be accessed by land from a parking area, but would not have boat access.
Some of the people who have spoken against placing a new town beach there have stated concerns that the creation and use of the beach, which would also be a new state park because it would be located on state land, would destroy natural and historic resources. State officials have said that rare plants have been identified on the property in past years, and there may be archeological resources located there as well. State and federal laws require that inventories be taken of these resources before any construction is done on the site.
“My question is the same as it has always been,” Merrow said. “How come they are so concerned about us using the beach when they don’t do anything about those people?”
Merrow maintains that in light of the constant uncontrolled use of the land that currently goes on, a town beach would not make things worse and could make things better, by providing a plan and enforcement to protect at least a small portion of the beach.
It would also be more fair to the citizens of Ossipee, he said, since they do not have access to a swimming beach on Ossipee Lake. There is a town beach on the lake, accessible from a walkway in Constitution Park, but swimming is not allowed there because it is on a narrow section of the lake and because of the amount of boat traffic there.
“People who have spoken out against it do not even know what the plan is. Too many people try to say no to things before they look for reasons how it can be done,” Merrow said.