The clash over the future of Baboosic Lake in Amherst and Merrimack continues

To the Editor:

May 20th marked yet another clash between the Baboosic Lake Rowing Club (BLRC) and the Baboosic Lake Association (BLA).

With the Souhegan High School auditorium holding up to 30 people in attendance along with the Amherst Recreation Department, the topic quickly became rather blurred. The plan for a new boathouse, which is the root of all this dissention, became mixed up with the idea of whether or not the BLRC should be allowed to operate on Baboosic Lake at all, as well as the idea of expanding or, as one man said, “taking over the lake.”

The conflict began when the BLRC put forth a plan to replace the building on the town beach with an improved structure that would allow room for the rowing club to keep their boats, as well as space for public usage.

Starting last year, this club has quickly become popular, especially amongst the students of Souhegan High School.

Over the past few months, residents from around the lake have raised concerns regarding the intentions of the BLRC and how their plans for improving the town beach are not wanted. Many members of the BLA believe that Baboosic Lake is not the right place to have a crew team and say that the BLRC should find another location. This obviously led to disagreements on both sides leading up to the meeting that took place the other day.

The meeting was kicked off with a message from an attorney representing the BLA to ensure that their viewpoints were noted. Their main point was that “the association does not oppose this activity on the lake, but does believe that it needs to have proper structure and restrictions in place to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with other people who use the lake.” The attorney even relayed the demands of the BLA to recreation, calling for restrictions on the number of boats that the BLRC could use, as well as the times that they could operate.

The size of the lake was also a topic that was asked to be considered by the recreation department, quoted as being “only 226 acres, 1.4 miles long, and .4 miles at its widest point.” This is an issue, yet seeing that crew takes place, for many, in the spring and fall, not many people are out on the lake anyway. As one of the crew coaches put it, “I understand that space is a problem on the lake, but we really have not had any conflicts with space at all this season … and there was only one day and that was last Monday when we actually encountered other boats out there. I didn’t see another boat out there the entire time we were out there.”

Throughout the meeting, which only lasted for half an hour, compared to the three hours the last time these two groups met, the BLRC calmly and politely answered all the criticism that was directed toward it and maintained its notion that it was trying to benefit the community.

Being a member of the BLRC myself, I find it very hard not to share my own opinion. The community of Amherst and the BLA must look at the bigger picture. This boathouse would be a great aspect for this town. It will benefit it by replacing a building that is falling down and provide more space for public use.

When it comes to recreation, this town should be doing everything it can to preserve it. Already residents have suffered the crucial loss of Cemetery Fields and it is imperative that they do not lose the recreational capabilities of Baboosic Lake as well.

JASPER JONES

Mont Vernon