Dublin Lake proposed parking plan allegedly violates public access rules

  • Roadside parking on East Lake Road along Dublin Lake. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/19/2021 3:26:59 PM

Dublin’s proposed lakeside parking ban at Dublin Lake clashes with deeds and historic public accesses in two areas of the lake, according to a unanimous motion that the state Public Water Access Advisory Board (PWAAB) recently sent to the town. Dublin is currently reviewing the letter with legal counsel.

The PWAAB, which is chaired by Thomas Quarles, told the town that their plan to ban parking on the lake side of Lake Road conflicts with deeds to the lake’s public water access, which is located near the intersection with Mauran Road, as well as the Brown’s Cove area, which is near the Pumpelly Trail. Both sites have historically been used as access points for lake recreation.

Since “No Parking” signs are already posted along the south and west side of Lake Road near the Brown’s Cove area, as well as south of the public access site, the lake-side parking ban would effectively prohibit public access of Dublin Lake, which is a public body of water, Quarles alleged in the May 12 letter to the Select Board.

This directly violates the deed for the public access site, Quarles wrote, since its deed specifically states that boat owners “have historically and should continue to… park along Lake Road and on “the town road running westerly from it for 100 yards or so” [i.e., Mauran Road].”

Dublin should, therefore, remove existing “No Parking” signs on Mauran Road and near the public water access site, and retain parking on at least one side of Lake Road adjacent to Brown’s Cove, according to a unanimous May 3 vote from the Public Water Access Advisory Board, according to Quarles’ letter.

This marks the third time in the past decade that the PWAAB has become involved with access issues at Dublin Lake, Quarles wrote, each time after being approached by Dublin resident Steve Baldwin.
“The first time was in 2013 when the PWAAB and Mr. Baldwin prevented the Town’s efforts to prohibit swimming at the public water access site... The town’s proposal directly violated the deed of gift from the private property owner who gave the site to the town in 1961 as a public water access site for all purposes and to be open to the general public. The second time was last spring when a resident property owner in the Brown’s Cove area improperly signed the area between Lake Road and Brown’s Cove as “No Trespassing,” when the road right of way extended to the lake’s high water mark and therefore the public had a right to park and access the shorefront for swimming and fishing, an historic use of that area for decades,” Quarles wrote, acknowledging that the town ultimately determined those signs had to be removed.

The PWAAB scrutinizes parking restrictions that in turn restrict public access “with great care,” Quarles wrote.

“My goal here is to make the parking around the lake better than it is,” Baldwin said, which means ensuring there are safe places for people to park while recreating. Baldwin said he sees the current parking restriction concerns as a continuation of the issues he started pursuing in 2013. “This has been a long time coming,” he said. So far, “No Parking” signs have proliferated haphazardly around the lake without any overarching plan, Baldwin said, and he wants the town to exercise its control and enforcement of signs and rules within the road’s right-of-way. “If we create a plan, ditch [certain areas of the roadside] properly and make it clear where parking is… that would be more productive,” he said, rather than just telling people where they can’t park.

The Dublin Select Board has forwarded the letter to their legal counsel and may discuss it publicly as soon as their May 24 meeting, Town Administrator Kate Fuller said. “The Select Board’s primary concern is the safety of residents and visitors,” she said, and their ultimate plan for parking along the lake will consider the safe passage of emergency vehicles, pedestrians, as well as environmental concerns. Although the town bought a number of “No Parking” signs last year, none have been put up yet, she said.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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