CAPE ELIZABETH — Access to the water in the Kettle Cove area was a hot topic at a Town Hall forum on Monday.
The informal meeting on June 27 included a group of about 20 residents, commercial fisherman and lobstermen; Town Manager Mike McGovern; Police Chief Neil Williams; Public Works Director Bob Malley, and parks and beach manager John Polackwich of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
The meeting was in response to a request from local fishermen to discuss commercial and recreational fishing and boating activity in the Kettle Cove area. Some of them expressed concern about sharing a landing known as Boat Cove or Stone Cove with recreational boaters.
Lobsterman Daniel Harriman said on a hot summer afternoon, soft-shell lobsters have to be transported quickly or they can die. Waiting for recreational boaters to load or unload in the same area where commercial fisherman are unloading traps can doom the lobsters, he said.
“If there was a loading and unloading area, people wouldn’t have such a hard time getting in and out of there,” he said.
Lobstermen also voiced concerns about abandoned moorings in the area, riprap along the shore, limited access to the beach at high tide, enforcement at Boat Cove, parking and lobster trap storage.
Area residents said their concerns are about increased access to the area and maintenance of the seawall.
Chuck Redman of Kettle Cove Road said he did not want to negatively impact the way commercial fishermen make a living, but he is concerned about increased access to the water near his home.
“I’m concerned about how much access is really necessary,” he said. “It needs to be done sensitively, with input from all the parties.”
Polackwich, who manages the beach and parks at Crescent Beach State Park, Kettle Cove and Two Lights State Park, said the current policy allows recreational and commercial fishing and boating activities from the Boat Cove launch.
But after listening to the concerns of the lobstermen and residents, he said he would bring the information to his supervisors and report back to McGovern with updates.
“I am a foot soldier,” he said. “What I’m hearing is a need for a separate launch for recreational use. I want to be a good patron of the community.”