ESSEX — The boat launching ramp at Town Landing, 66 Main St. (Route 133), will be closed to non-residents from Friday, July 31, through Oct. 1.

"The popularity of boating has increased this year due to limited other activities," reads a notice on the town's website in reference to the COVD-19 pandemic. "And the ramp has become congested and overcrowded, with the Board (of Selectmen) desiring to provide some relief for residents who use the ramp."

Non-residents who are found disobeying this new ordinance are subject to having their vehicle and trailer ticketed or towed, "with the emphasis on towing, since parking areas are needed for other activities," the notice said.

Overflow boat trailer parking at the town's municipal lot behind the Essex Police Department is also resident only, but non-residents are allowed to park further down Shepard Memorial Drive by the tennis courts on a first-come, first-serve basis.  

"There are many competing uses and towing may be necessary to avoid illegally parked vehicles from taking space from other things, such as games as Memorial Park," said Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki in an email. "Right now, (the fine) is $25. The selectmen could increase that at some point."

The decision to close Town Landing to out-of-town boaters was made by selectmen during their meeting Monday night.

In an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading, town officials have been limiting non-residents from accessing the town's shorelines. On June 2, the town reopened Chebacco Lake at Centennial Grove and the beaches at Conomo Point to residents only; however, Chebacco Lake is currently closed to swimming due to a toxic algae bloom.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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