SALEM, CT (WFSB) – Early morning on the Fourth of July, there was noise, cars parked in private driveways, and fights that lead to an arrest in Salem.

Channel 3 first reported on this story last week, and now, residents are fighting back.

On Thursday night at Gardner Lake, there wasn’t a soul in the water. It was the epitome of peace, and a complete contrast to what it looked like last Thursday.

Neighbors say it doesn’t need to be that quiet, but they’re just asking for help when it comes to holidays and weekends.

Chaos ensued at Gardner Lake on the Fourth of July. Video showed cars packed streets and private driveways.

“They’re just letting everyone run rampant. There’s no supervision,” said Sue Coffee, a neighbor.

Neighbors said the noise and overcrowding started right after dawn, with the parking lot being completely full at 8 a.m.

Some officials said nearly 1,000 people were at the lake at one time and that sent parkgoers, many from out of state, to search residential streets looking for a spot to park.

According to neighbors, some drivers had no respect for private property.

“I have private property, no trespassing, not state park. And ten cars still came down, drove a mile, it’s a mile road, and got out,” Coffee said.

That lead to dozens of cars getting towed. The state police called for some, while residents called for others.

“I heard 40. There were seven companies,” Coffee said.

Then, came the noise. Jet skis woke lakeside neighbors up at 6 a.m. and the revving didn’t stop.

Since many parkgoers Channel 3 saw had Massachusetts and New York plates, they’re likely not familiar with Connecticut boating laws.

“You go anywhere, you have to know what the rules are, what the game is. Stupidity doesn’t count,” Coffee said.

So, over the last two nights, neighbors have met with town officials looking for solutions.

On Thursday night, they were at the Gardner Lake authority meeting where proposals have been made to request more police patrolling the waters and to close the park to the public once the parking lot is full.

“We support anything that will make it safer on the lake,” said Bob Neddo, Gardner Lake Authority.

Bob Neddo is a member of the lake authority. He said real change will need to come from the state.

“We don’t have the authority to do anything other than trying to get the boat patrol out there,” Neddo said.

Residents said they have a good working relationship with the state and are hoping the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will act on the requests.

Channel 3 will continue monitoring the situation throughout the summer.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(1) comment


I, for one, despise jet skis - they are annoying, loud and can turn a tranquil place into an ocean - and it's not fair to those who want to enjoy it such as kayakers, fishermen, etc. - small cabin boats are the same whizzing around the lake doing the same. Where is the respect?

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