Wayne Ordon of the Northeast Watercraft Alliance addressed the Board of Selectmen on Monday night.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Jet Ski races are coming to Pontoosuc Lake this summer.
The Northeast Watercraft Alliance, from upstate New York, will be holding races in July on the lake outside of Matt Reilly's on Route 7. The Board of Selectmen approved the event, which is eyed to attract 30 to 40 racers on July 12 and 13.
"Generally, 80 to 90 percent of our competitors are seasoned racers," said Wayne Ordon of the watercraft alliance. "It's a very serious sporting endeavor for the participants."
This will be the organization's fifth year organizing races and sixth year organizing charity-based free rides. But it is the first time it will be hosting an event in Lanesborough.
"We seek to make a friend of Lanesborough," Ordon said, envisioning returning to the lake in future seasons.
The races will take place during that Saturday, with the course being set up the night before. The racers are expected to take to the lake from 10 a.m. until as late as 5 p.m. depending on the turnout. The course will be 500-by-750 feet some 100 feet off the shore, he said.
The organization has four competitive events scheduled this year and they expect to attract racers from all over the region. The other events are held in New York and Connecticut.
"It brings some heads and beds and gas sales downtown," Ordon said.
The organizers spoke with the Fire and Police departments about their needs — such as the Police Department staffing an officer to help with traffic and the Fire Department providing emergency medical services. With the two chiefs happy with the plan, the Board of Selectmen approved the event pending getting those services into writing.
"We worked well together when he called me," said Police Chief Mark Bashara. "We're willing to work with them."
Ordon added that the organization has its own insurance policy that will cover the town and employees staffing the event.
Orton said he already told some of the neighbors the plans for the event and they had not expressed concerns.
Jack Hickey, an assistant to the harbormaster, raised concerns with invasive species being brought the lake, alternative access points and noise.
"The last thing we want is for Pontoosuc Lake to have zebra mussels in it," Hickey said.
Ordon countered each of those concerns. As for invasive species, Orton said the watercraft do not carry water with them from lake to lake and that the operators are very conscious of the species and do their part to keep the vehicles clean. The machines are all "flushed out" after the races.
"The watercraft community is completely and unbendingly committed [to stopping invasive species]," he said.
Hickey added that he will work with the state Department of Conservation to develop a plan to protect the lake during the event.
"We've already started to work with DCR and we will have a full-blown methods of dealing with this issue," Hickey told the Selectmen.
As for noise, Ordon compared the noise levels to being no louder than a lawnmower. To participate in the race, Ordon says the racers all have to access at the check-in point, so concerns the racers would enter at other docks is unfounded.
"I'm in support of having these type of events," said Chairman John Goerlach.
Selectman Henry Sayers said he had some reservations without hearing from all of the neighbors but he "would support trying one."
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