Some residents say there’s a certain obligation to offer safe boating on lakes served by a public boat ramp.

OXFORD – Selectman Dennis Sanborn thinks the town ought to take the lead in having safety buoys installed in the channel on Thompson Lake near Pismo Beach.

At a recent selectmen’s meeting, he said, the 30-foot-wide channel has stump hazards that the locals are aware of, but out-of-staters are not.

“The town put a lot of money into that boat ramp and docks,” Sanborn said. Town officials in Naples were able to get the state to install safety buoys on Long Lake, he added.

“If Naples can do it, why can’t we?” he asked.

Complicating the situation is a dock that extends out well into the west side of the channel, forcing unaware boaters toward the stumpy area. In order to navigate the channel safely, boaters need to pass close by the dock, creating another safety issue for people swimming there, he said.

Sharon Jackson, a member of the Recreation Committee, said she spoke last year with officials from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and was told there was nothing the state could do to limit the length of the dock that is owned by Bill Compton on Cooper Lane.

Sanborn said he once owned a camp near the channel, and “I can’t tell you how many times I heard motors jumping up out of the water when they hit the stumps.”

In a later interview, Jackson said people have talked about the need for buoys for years, but have never reached a consensus on the issue.

“There’s about as many as do (want the buoys) as don’t,” she said. Safety buoys have been placed at the Casco end of the lake, and “some people think it makes the lake look tacky,” she said.

Others say there’s a certain obligation to offer safe boating on lakes served by a public boat ramp.

Jackson said if buoys are installed, the state would oversee the work, and it can be “an expensive proposition,” she said.

Besides, for this year at least, there are no funds in the budget for the work, she said.

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