Supervisors Oppose Decreased Hours at Boat Ramp

Weighing neighbors’ concerns about noisy engines and boat trailers against recreational access rights, the Baileys Harbor Town Board voted 3-2 Monday, Feb. 12, against decreasing the operational hours at a boat ramp along Moonlight Bay.

Giorgio Gimelli, who lives next to the Bues Point boat launch, and his neighbor, Henry Saperstein, asked the town board to clip time off each end of the hours of operation, from the current 5 am – 11 pm, to 6 am – 10 pm.

“I think we’re not being unreasonable to ask for a small change in hours,” said Gimelli, who suggested the anglers who want to go out earlier than 6 am can launch at the large Baileys Harbor Marina downtown.

Saperstein said use has “escalated tremendously,” and many of the boat motors launched at the point are larger and louder than those used when he became a full-time resident in 2002. He said boat parking also has increased along the roadway.

Seven fishermen and duck hunters and a member of the fire department spoke against the change.

Hunter and angler Todd Haleen read from state statute the ways the town cannot prevent access to the site. Baileys Harbor Assistant Fire Chief Eric Peil said for emergency response purposes the town should also remove a traffic-control gate that closes the roadway to the ramp site during the season between 11 pm and 5 am.

Angler Ian Anschutz asked the town to provide more boat ramps, and said he preferred no closing time at all at Bues Point, saying it’s important to reach salmon-fishing waters by 4 am. 

Duck hunter Aiden Neal said 5 am is the latest suitable time to open the ramp for duck hunters. He also said the Bues Point launch provides safer passage for small boats than the large Baileys Harbor Marina downtown that forces travel into the rougher waters of Lake Michigan to reach hunting spots at Moonlight Bay.

Town Supervisors Peter Jacobs and Roberta Thelen voted in favor of shorter hours. Supervisor Terry McArdle voted “no” along with Sue Tishler and Town Board Chair David Eliot (who is also the publisher/co-owner of this newspaper). Before the vote, Eliot asserted that the current hours and the gate were put in place to prevent camping and late-night visitors, and as a compromise that recognizes the effects on neighbors as well as user access.

The Baileys Harbor Marina was closed for a good portion of the 2023 season. McArdle said that may have sent a lot of traffic north to Bues Point, and that the boat launch may be less busy this year.