Saco River boat launch opening deemed a success
Joe and Mark Lautenschlager of North Conway carry their kayaks down through the new boat launch drive-through area in Hussey Field near First Bridge in North Conway. The turn-around allows vehicles of all sizes to park long enough for water enthusiasts to unload or load kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft without tying up traffic on the busy River Road or distrubing swimmers at the public beach. The walking path to the river is just over Mark Lautenschlager's shoulders. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX)
“Unbelievable!” was the word used by Peter Gagne, owner of Saco Canoe Rental, to describe how well the new system worked out.
Gagne serves on the Saco River Advisory Committee, the town committee established last year to come up with a plan for boat launching access on River Road in North Conway.
“It eases a lot of the congestion,” continued Gagne, speaking Monday after a busy weekend. He said commercial watercraft companies are funding a special detail police presence on summer Saturdays during peak hours, and that on Sundays a town employee will be in the area, educating the general public on how to use the new access.
“It's better than it was,” North Conway resident Joe Lautenschlager remarked late Sunday morning. It splits, he explained, the boat-carrying traffic from the public bathing beach next to First Bridge. Groups of boaters, he said, had made it hard for families with young children to enjoy the sandy town beach, as those bringing kayaks and canoes to the river would even kick the beach towels of bathers out of their way.
Lautenschlager and his son, Mark, were carrying their two kayaks along the new access path to the river. While creating the lollipop-shaped vehicle access and the pedestrian path to the river, the town left much of the cut and flattened field grasses on the ground, providing an extra measure of protection for the soil. Snow fencing marks the boundaries for vehicles, with an inner circle fenced off, too, in order to facilitate the one-way traffic flow.
The driveway access, Lautenschlager said, is much safer, with vehicles of all sizes coming out onto the road at a T intersection. The right-angle allows drivers much better line-of-sight before they pull out onto the roadway. Previously, vehicles, including the commercial liveries with stacks of boats on trailers, parked along the road, parallel to traffic flow, where the drivers had to rely on rear-view mirrors or crane their necks completely around to see the traffic coming behind them.
Detective Ryan Wallace of the Conway Police Department said the first weekend for the boat launch had gone smoothly, with no accidents. He added that since private boaters coming from Route 16/Main Street come upon the public parking area, many are still using access points near First Bridge.
The new area is west of that first bridge over the Saco River, and leaves River Road by the small gravel pull-out by the North Conway Water Precinct spicket. The driveway goes down into the field, circling around counter-clockwise. The pedestrian path leads to a cobbled beach area on the Saco.
The entrance is across the street from the precinct's new pump house. It was the placement of the pumphouse — the previous one serving the district's customer was located by the fresh water spigot — that necessitated a change in venue for private boaters and the commercial liveries. Gagne, who has been in business for 15 years, said he's been talking with the town public works director, Paul DegliAngeli , for a number of years about a safer, more efficient solution to moving people, boats and vehicles.
Gagne credited DegliAngeli, Town Manager Earl Sires and David Weathers, chairman of the select board, with moving this plan forward. The town has received a grant for $12,000, which will fund more permanent infrastructure — such as grass pavers — at the site.
The access on the northwest corner of River Road and the Saco might not be the final word on the matter, though, as the town is trying out the present set-up for a two-year trial period.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Hooksett school board members grapple with district’s future - 0
- Dodgeball returns to Windham schools - 0
- How Rosaly’s garden grew into organic Peterborough farm - 0
- Bedford maintains highest credit rating from Moody’s - 0
- Damn Yankees at Leddy Center July 12-28 - 0
- Dan Brown and Joe Stevens Join Prescott Park Arts Festival's Summer Movie Series - 0
- Loeb School Offers Cartooning for Kids Workshop - 0
- Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: Samples from the world of Pinot Noir - 0
- Moose Hunt Lottery Drawing Is Friday, June 21, 2013 - 0
Dodgeball returns to Windham schools
Raymond man's hope for working van realized
Voter restrictions: Who will govern us?
Nashua couple's deaths called suspicious
Mother of drowned baby gets prison time