Spread the word: Pond shore still off-limits
The court’s recent ruling that lifted the recreational use ban on Berlin Pond without giving any support to Montpelier’s rights and privileges to privately owned property around the pond — a right the court would surely defend — has certainly left us all in a difficult situation. The fact they gave Montpelier and Berlin absolutely no time to prepare or inspect the area for the new regulation after being closed to the public for a century in itself seems somewhat hazardous.
On days when the temperature crept into the 80s, The Times Argus posted a sprawling headline saying, “High court: Come in, water’s fine” (May 15), among other references implying the pond is open to the public.
Friday the headline read “Pond violators to face charges,” with a story explaining that Berlin and Montpelier police will be enforcing no-trespassing orders.
I agree that the free-for-all approach to the pond has to stop. But I also understand why people who hear that the Vermont Supreme Court has overturned the ruling prohibiting recreational use of the pond, and read in the local paper “The city may strive to prevent indirectly the recreational use of Berlin Pond by denying access to its lands that surround the pond” (Times Argus, May 15) might be a little confused.
A few words of wisdom from the court reminding people that Montpelier still has the right to continue to enforce existing no-trespassing regulations on its land surrounding the pond, and a paragraph or two explaining Montpelier is restricting access to the pond via its current, enforceable private property regulation, along with a few photos of “No Trespassing” signs, in The Times Argus would have spoken volumes to everybody.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. But it took three years and the Vermont Supreme Court to figure this one out. I don’t expect people to know exactly what the rules are, especially after seeing photos of kayaks on, and people fishing around, the pond (Times Argus, May 19). It’s confusing, and I think the folks should get plenty of warning before being fined.
To be clear, I believe landowners around the pond (or anywhere) have the right and privilege to ownership of private property. I believe they have the right to unobstructed passage to and from that property. I believe that Berlin Pond is a unique natural resource worth protecting and that access to the pond needs to be strictly controlled. But from what I’ve read, heard and seen (until today), I can’t blame people for flocking to the pond.
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- MEDIA GALLERY