‘No swimming’ rule remaining at lake access point
|The Coventry Board of Trustees eliminated swimming off lot 34 in the East Reservoir Allotment at the April 12 meeting. The vacant property is owned by the township.|
|Photo: Lew Stamp|
Board Chairman Bob Seese’s recommendation to permit swimming this summer at the township-owned lake access point on Waterside Drive failed to stay afloat, however.
“I will say I don’t have a problem with people in the neighborhood swimming, wading,” he said. “The dilemma is that we have a motion on record.”
Trustees Dave Calderone and Gary Zoldesy approved the recommendations of township attorney Irv Sugerman and set site restrictions, including the elimination of swimming off the vacant property in the East Reservoir Allotment, during the April 12 meeting.
“We don’t want the liability of swimming,” said Board Chairman Tom Seese last month. “There are young people using the area without adult supervision. We are going to put regulations down there concerning things we don’t believe should be going on.”
Those who reside next to lot 34 notified the trustees last year of inappropriate behavior by minors, including underage drinking, taking place on the property, especially during the summer months.
The decision to ban swimming upset some residents of the allotment. Several of these individuals were in attendance May 10 to request the return of swimming from the land where fishing and picnicking still are permitted.
Seese said the board was hoping residents of the subdivision would form an association that would lease the lot from the township and establish its own regulations.
Robert Ashley, of 3365 Waterside Drive, explained it would be nearly impossible for residents to form the association in time for this summer.
He suggested the township rope off just a small area in which residents of the subdivision could get into the water to just cool off and splash around.
Township officials agreed allowing swimming now would be a huge liability.
Ashley explained his neighbors are disappointed in the decision, especially because they recently started to work together to keep the area well-maintained.
“The way you did it cuts it off cold turkey,” he said. “I would like to see a reprieve just for this summer.”
Ashley said if there are problems this summer, then the board could revisit the issue again. He reminded the board the township has numerous other areas where people swim.
The trustees said problems at those locations have not been reported, however.
Calderone has said the board was obligated to address the situation at lot 34 when residents asked for assistance.
Carolyn Vogenitz, who lives next door to the property, said last month she was very concerned because teenagers would swim around her fence last summer and jump into the water from her boat dock and boat house. She said she did not want to be sued.
Subdivision resident Mary Antenora said the board is “punishing the wrong people” who use it respectfully and help clean it up. She asked the board to “give it more time.” Antenora said she and other residents have been “chasing out” those who should not be using the area, specifically teenagers who don’t live in the allotment.
Seese said it was not the board’s intent to punish.
“I would like to back away and let you handle it,” he said. “I don’t know how the board feels, but I am willing to let them iron out their own problems.”
Seese made a motion to rescind the original decision to ban swimming, but his motion failed for a lack of a second.
Fiscal Officer Joni Murgatroyd said the issue has escalated to a level where the township just can’t go back and say “swim at your own risk or with an adult.”
“We have the liability,” she explained. “It is an unsupervised, unmaintained piece of land owned by the township.”
According to Murgatroyd, it would be very expensive to insure the township-owned lake access point. She spoke to the township’s insurance agents and reported they are not comfortable with anyone swimming from lot 34.
Antonera said the township is ending 100 years of people swimming from the access area.
Ashley added there has not been an accident on lot 34 to cause concern.
“It is a tough situation. I wish you could swim there,” Calderone explained. “If we allow it, then we are endorsing it. The insurance company discourages it.”
He said he “gladly” would lease it to the residents to take care of and use for their enjoyment, however.
“We have to act responsibility before the fact. If some freak accident would happen now, how would we stand up to that? That is what prohibits me from acting how you want us to, collectively,” Calderone said.
If complaints arise from other properties, the board may have to outlaw swimming there, he added.
“If we see a problem, we act proactively,” Calderone said.
Zoldesy said he spent time researching the matter and has been “conflicted.”
He was willing to allow the residents one more month to put together an association, but Ashley reiterated it would not happen by then.
“Before next summer, you may consider putting together an association,” Seese said.
Also during the meeting, the board approved an agreement with New Franklin for trash collection in the township by Republic Waste Services. Seese explained Republic Waste would start collecting trash in the township in July. He said residents will get several notices to cancel their current trash haulers and explain how to set up an account with Republic Waste. He said this agreement will reduce what township residents currently are paying for trash collection and allow them to take advantage of recycling.
The board publicly thanked New Franklin for allowing the township to join its contract with Republic Waste and take advantage of the savings.
The board also approved the purchase of an excavator, off-road model, for about $242,000 to replace the township’s 1992 model. Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer said the trade-in value on the current vehicle is $7,500 and “that is generous.”
“We have used it to its fullest potential,” he said.
The township began saving money for the purchase several years ago, township officials said.
Stouffer said the new model will allow the road department to access more township roads than the current model can.
Also, the board approved:
• the appointment of John Messmore to fill the unexpired term of Zoldesy on the Board of Zoning Appeals;
• repairs totaling about $6,000 to an ambulance recently involved in an accident;
• an interior light upgrade project with FirstEnergy to allow the township to install more energy-efficient lighting in township buildings, which reportedly will create a significant savings. Calderone said the project will cost the township about $10,000, but that money should be recovered through the savings in about four years; and
• a letter of intent to purchase a new tanker truck for the fire department and retire a 30-year-old vehicle.
The next meeting is set for June 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive.
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