Lake neighbors ask state to nix new boat gate

KINDERHOOK–A group concerned with access to Kinderhook Lake has weighed in on the latest round of the debate over a boat launch gate.

The group, which first contacted the state in 2015 and is now called Concerned Neighbors of Kinderhook Lake, asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reconsider a permit for a gate at the boat launch on Rose Street Extension in Niverville. The gate has been proposed by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation (KLC), a non-profit corporation that owns and maintains the lake.

KLC asked the DEC for a permit to install the gate with a lock that can be opened by KLC members. KLC presently maintains a boat launch gate on county Route 28 in the hamlet of Niverville. The organization hopes the new gate will restrict larger boats that might transport invasive species into lake.

The KLC received a Freshwater Wetlands Permit from the DEC in December of 2014 to put up the gate and had already put posts in the water to hold it. But in May 2015, the KLC received a letter from the state saying that the DEC intended to revoke the permit due to old information that was brought to the DEC’s attention.

DEC gave the KLC a chance to appeal its decision before revoking the permit, and in May 2016 the KLC sent a letter explaining its position on the gate and the road that leads to the lake.

The letter to the DEC from KLC’s lawyer said that “smaller boats, such as rowboats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and those who wanted to swim, wade, fish, etc. could still enter the lake at the Rose Street Extension location by going in the water around the gate.” The letter says that only large boat users would need to purchase a key to open the gate.

Basic membership to the KLC costs about $125 a year and includes a boat launch key. The KLC says the gate will help protect the lake from invasive plant and animal species on boats that are not properly cleaned after being used in waterways where the invasive species already thrive.

The Concerned Neighbors group, which opposes the gate, filed its views in a letter to the DEC responding to KLC’s letter dated September 28. The letter stresses that Kinderhook Lake has been designated a navigable waterway and that “the gate will restrict access and navigation.”

The 21-page letter cites two times when permits for gates were denied in the late 1990s due to the lake being a navigable waterway. The letter says that in the DEC denial letters from 1997 and 1998, the DEC “clearly and unequivocally determined that Kinderhook Lake is a navigable water subject to the right of public access and free passage.”

Lawyer Thomas Puchner, who wrote the letter for the neighbors, also talks about the road to the lake being a public road, maintained by the Town of Kinderhook, and disputes the KLC’s claim that they can put the gate in the water bed not on the road. He talks about the ownership of that part of the lake and later in the letter says, “Simply put, the right of free passage between Rose Street Extension, a public highway, and Kinderhook Lake, a navigable [waterway], cannot be severed by the KLC.”

The letter also says that that the gate would not keep out invasive species, since anyone with a key can get on the lake with a larger boat. The neighbors group also questions the KLC’s application process and talks about a petition that “over 100 local property owners, residents and concerned citizens” signed requesting the DEC to hold a public hearing before the agency decides on whether to permit the gate.

The DEC has not set a date for a public hearing or a deadline for a final decision on the gate.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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