Gary Fillion motored away from his dock and cut across Lake Zoar, taking his Beagle for her daily ride on Friday, April 25.
She may like to watch the waves, but Mr Fillion, who serves as Lake Zoar Authority (LZA) vice chairman, was out on business. Heading upriver toward the Glen Road bridge (referred to locally as “The Silver Bridge”) that connects Sandy Hook and Southbury, a white buoy appeared in the water closer to the Newtown shore. The white pillar — jutting up about two feet from the water’s surface — is one of 13 placed in areas where there are obstructions in the water that could pose danger to unsuspecting boaters.
In a recent announcement from LZA member Ed Kusinski, representing Monroe, he said, “In our effort to promote safety on the lake, the buoys will be placed at various locations where submerged objects such as rocks, stumps,and shallow water may cause a navigational hazard to boaters.”
Old bridge abutments, and a sand bar — so shallow that a wooden picnic table sits with its surface above water — are also among areas where something near the water’s surface could pose a danger, Mr Fillion said.
Mr Fillion also maneuvered his boat beneath the bridge to a small cove that catches the Pootatuck River as it spills into Lake Zoar. That spot, located near the end of Glen Road, is shallow.
“People [who live] on the lake may be familiar [with the depth]. Out-of-staters, if they go in there after bass, they get hung up,” he said.
Moving past the bridge toward Interstate 84, where the highway crosses the lake flowing between Newtown and Southbury, a small outcropping that is roughly the size of a boat was another area that received a buoy on Friday. The small island of stone is the old footing for Bennetts Bridge that crossed from the end of Riverside Road in Newtown to a small beach in Southbury along River Road. There are also shallows on the Southbury side of the I-84 bridge, said Mr Fillion.
A recent unusually low drawdown by FirstLight, the power company that controls the water height, also revealed another old bridge abutment close to the surface that was until then unknown.
Soon encountering the contractors hired to install the buoys, Mr Fillion called a greeting to John Budrow and Matt Vogt of New England Aquatic Services out of New Milford. The two men were assembling and installing buoys from their boat. The buoys will be “semipermanent,” said Mr Fillion. They will be removed from the lake in late fall “so the winter ice does not take them out.”
On his way back to his dock, Mr Fillion passed by a tall stone train bridge abutment standing just beyond the Silver Bridge. Steel strips extended about two feet above the water at their base. Concerned about the girders, but struggling with FirstLight, he said, “We’re trying to make the water navigable for consumers, it’s a battle.”
A discussion for buoys has been before the LZA for some time. Unlike nearby Lakes Lillinonah and Candlewood, which see more activity, Zoar just “didn’t have as much traffic,” he said. But in the interest of safety, he said, “We felt it was time to mark the hazards on the lake.”
The project is paid for through the LZA budget along with funding from FirstLight, an estimated $2,500 for the buoys, and roughly the same amount to cover installation.
During 2013 the locations for these buoys had been recorded by the Lake Zoar Authority via capturing GPS coordinates.
“Our goal is to have the buoys in place prior to the 2014 boating season,” said Mr Kusinski, who expects the project will be completed prior to May 1.