Where the road ends
Public access has been restored at Pleasant Bay—for now
In the County, everyone is aware of how precious access to water is. For recreation, agriculture, livestock, and even in emergency situations, getting to the water’s edge is vital. So when gates went up at the end of Pleasant Bay road a couple of years ago, the response was none too positive. The road had been clear right to the water for decades, and is a popular spot for fishing, hunting and other recreational activities. Back in the day, it was also a road that farmers used to take their cattle down to get a drink at the side of the lake. These new gates stood not only as a physical block to that area, but as a rallying point for the residents of the County to stand up to anyone blocking public access to water. The gates made local headlines, and pressure mounted to have them removed. Council started drumming up support, and both sides of the gate issue started to get their legal ducks in a row.
In a new development of this story, someone has taken the gates down at Pleasant Bay Road— and from the looks of things, they weren’t taken down nicely. The gates themselves have been pushed back about 50 feet and placed haphazardly against a tree. The posts that held the gates into the ground are broken and bent backwards, indicating that someone probably went through the gates with force.
Local resident Vic Alyea thought the actions may have been the County’s doing.
“We have been asking and pushing for so long to have those gates removed, I thought that the County just went ahead and cleared the road.”
But the County responded with a negative, and in a response from Works Chief Robert McAuley, he states that they are still working on clarifying the historic road title rights and having the old road surveyed before action can be taken.
So, if the County is not taking responsibility and residents don’t know who did it, then it remains a real mystery. Surely the owner of the property would have taken more time to take down the gate, and not run it over to remove it.
Alyea is also a bit of a local historian and has the original maps of lots and concessions for the Hiller area. He points out the many road allowances that are not being paid attention to when it comes to new properties and building on them. Alyea then points to a line by the shore between Pleasant Bay and Bakker Roads that used to be a road connecting the two areas. It was a road very close to the beach, but was a public road for years nonetheless. He also points to areas where access to water is currently an issue. He says that the County should be paying more attention to the land it owns.
“The County has to start standing up for the land they represent by making sure that public roads and their access to water are not prohibited in any way. New owners arrive and immediately want to fence off what’s theirs and lock it up. That has never been the way of things around here. Here we are much more welcoming than that.”
Public roads and access to water will always be a sensitive area for residents of the County. A public road that leads to water cannot be obstructed in any way. If a fence or obstruction does go up, it is the responsibility of the County to have it taken down immediately and then deal the consequences afterwards. Allowing blocked roads to stay blocked sets a bad precedent and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of people who have frequented that area for generations.
Another factor is that the local volunteer fire department requires access to water to fill its tanker trucks for emergencies. In remote areas of the County, a blocked water access could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation