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Commission holds boat lottery, considers return of lessons

Planning for the opening of the town beach to summertime activities is well underway. The Parks and Recreation Commission met Monday to conduct the annual boating lottery and to discuss plans for how to safely run swimming lessons as the pandemic continues.

Every year, a number of lucky residents are granted spots at the beach to store their boats for the summer season. Parks and Rec Chair Bob O’Shea explained to the Press how this lottery system works. There are four different boat storage locations: slip moorings, outer moorings, and inner cove moorings for larger boats, and racks for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Depending on their boat’s size, residents can either register to be in the “water lottery” or the “canoe/kayak lottery,” he said.

Each household, or boat, is allowed one lottery entry, and winners are selected at random. O’Shea said, however, that the process is complicated by the limitations in available space and permissible boat size of each mooring option. For instance, the slip moorings located along the docks can accommodate only eight boats. Therefore, extra applicants are then added into the lottery pool for the outer moorings just beyond the docks, O’Shea explained. He said the inner cove moorings by the boat launch are a separate lottery pool because, although they are for bigger boats, this location cannot accommodate boats larger than 14 feet. Space on the boating racks is a separate lottery as well, he said, and residents can either apply to use a whole or half rack depending on the size and number of boats they plan to store––a canoe or a paddle board takes up a full rack, but two kayaks can fit side by side.

Lottery registration, which opened at the beginning of March, closed March 31, and Parks and Rec met Monday to draw and notify the winners. O’Shea said the winners have two weeks to accept their spots and pay the fees. For slip moorings, the cost is $500; for outer cove moorings, $150; for inner cove moorings, $40; and for the boat racks, the cost is $50 for a half rack and $100 for a full one, O’Shea wrote to the Press. Stickers for registered boats will be mailed starting May 1.

Last year, Parks and Rec suspended swimming and boating lessons and lifeguarding at the pond due to the pandemic. The commission is still finalizing logistics, but it is planning to reopen lessons this summer. At the meeting, beach liaison Michelle Lauria said instructors will likely teach 30-minute private lessons to ensure social distancing among students and minimize exposure, instead of holding the usual large group lessons. O’Shea told the Press that the Board of Health has mandated 6 feet of distance even in the water, and––particularly for young children––this would be hard to enforce in a group setting. Private lessons will be one-on-one, or a small group if siblings or children from an established pod of families are at the same class level, he said. Boating lessons are likely to run in a similar fashion, with one or two students on a boat and the instructor riding alongside in a motorboat.

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