HARTFORD – Selectmen and members of the Recreation Committee discussed the recent move by the Pine Shores Subdivision Association to install a chain-link fence with a locked gate between the town beach and Pine Shores property.

The beach on Canton Lake is accessible by a town dirt road off Church Street. From a parking area at the end of that road beach-goers must walk into the woods, down a steep bank, across a boardwalk and to the water.

The gated private Pine Shores road leads to the beach from the town dirt road. It allows for emergency vehicle access and handicapped access. The association has recently left that gate open.

Now, the association is planning to install a second locked gate and fencing at one end of the beach separating Pine Shores land from the town beach.

“For Pine Shores to regate and now to deny access is totally negligent,” said Arlene Nason, a member of the Recreation Committee.

Residents expressed a concern that the Pine Shores Association is installing the additional gate because it was denied an attempt to have the subdivision road accepted as a town road at June’s town meeting.

“There’s no correlation between the two except in timing,” said Selectman Lee Holman. “But some people think their decision to install the gate may have to do with the fact that the road wasn’t accepted.”

According to Holman, because the beach is a public one, the town may have trouble with Americans with Disabilities Act compliance if it can’t offer handicapped access. The emergency entrance has been used a few times each season for handicapped access, Holman said.

Former selectman and Pine Shores resident David Bowen advised Recreation Committee members and selectmen to contact the association or Pine Shores President Mike Swanick with concerns.

In other business, selectmen appointed Charles Merritt to act as constable for the upcoming year.

Merritt has extensive law enforcement experience, selectmen said.

According to Selectman Scott Swain, Merritt will be assisting the town in establishing several crime watch groups in different areas, as well as patrolling the public beach at various times.

“In 1992, the comprehensive plan specified setting up crime watch groups,” Swain said. “There have been a number of break-ins around Church Street this year, as well.”

The town has purchased five crime watch signs, and a group near Bear Pond and McSherry Lane has contact with Oxford County Sheriff’s Department crime watch representatives.

Selectmen announced that board meetings will now be held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month at the town hall, which is located beside the town office.

A town picnic/barbecue is scheduled for Aug. 1 at the town beach. This will be a carry in/carry out event. For more information, contact Arlene Nason 224-7355.

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