Swimming around Lake Wassookeag channel in Dexter raises concerns

People enjoy a dip in the water of Lake Wassookkeag in Dexter in this 2009 file photo. The town has recently raised concerns about swimming zones in the area and ways to fix them.
Gabor Degre | BDN
People enjoy a dip in the water of Lake Wassookkeag in Dexter in this 2009 file photo. The town has recently raised concerns about swimming zones in the area and ways to fix them. Buy Photo
By Mike Lange, Piscataquis Observer
Posted July 18, 2013, at 12:19 p.m.

DEXTER, Maine — Swimming and operating watercraft at high speeds are not supposed to take place around the “no wake zone” at Lake Wassookeag channel in Dexter. However, enforcement can be a problem if the rope barriers currently used are difficult to see.

To counter the current problem, the Dexter Utility District, in cooperation with the Maine Department of Conservation, will be putting up sturdy, high-visibility poles to replace the barriers.

But Dexter Utility District Vice Chair Trampas King also told the Town Council recently that it’s up to them to enact an ordinance to ban swimming in prohibited areas.

“The barriers aren’t doing the job. People are running into them,” King said. “We would like to make the area a ‘no swimming’ zone, but [the utility district] can’t do it. We need a town ordinance, and I’d be glad to help you write one.”

The Department of Conservation will pay for the poles while the local district will supply the labor, according to King.

The council was receptive to the idea, and Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs brought up another Lake Wassookeag issue: kids jumping off the dam into the lake behind the A.E. Robinson store on Route 7.

“This is very, very dangerous. I’d like to see that added to the ‘no swimming’ list,” Briggs said.

Some councilors questioned whether the area where youngsters are diving from is private or state-owned property. Briggs said that she would research the ownership issue and report back to them.

“A.E. Robinson is concerned about the area and the possibility of someone having an accident,” Briggs said.

The rest of the brief agenda at the July 11 Town Council meeting was handled in less than 30 minutes, including Briggs’ monthly report.

The town manager said that Dexter is in solid shape financially, with $100,000 returned to the treasury and excise tax revenue “exceeded expectations and continue to trend at its highest level in five years.”

She urged the council to review the steps needed to create a charter review commission, noting that the last one was enacted in December 1999. Since the commission members have to be elected by popular vote, Briggs urged the council to take action soon.

When Council Chair Peter Haskell asked for a consensus on the issue, the rest of the council agreed without discussion. Briggs will research how the commission will be set up and the number of signatures needed by candidates to qualify for the November ballot.

Three foreclosed properties were on the agenda to be advertised and sold by quit-claim deed, but one was taken from the list when the owner of an Arno Road lot addressed the council. Rhonda Legere said that she has not had a permanent address since the town originally tried to contact her three years ago and had been plagued with numerous financial and personal problems.

Rev. Norm Bronson of Canaan offered to pay the $750 owed on the lot so she could retain ownership. “Right now, she’s living in my camper. That land is all she’s got. I hope you find it in your heart to give her one more chance,” Bronson said.

Councilor Alan Wintle withdrew his motion to put all three properties out to bid, resubmitted one without Legere’s lot and Bronson gave town officials a check for the amount due.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/18/news/penobscot/swimming-around-lake-wassookeag-channel-in-dexter-raises-concerns/ printed on September 16, 2014