Byram Cove, weeds and snake in the lake discussed at Commission meeting

HOPATCONG – Byram Cove, weeds and reports of a large snake in the lake dominated this month’s Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting on Monday, July 21.
At the June meeting, a group of residents from Byram Cove and a group of boaters squared off; residents fed up with noise, garbage left behind and rudeness of some of the people rafting in the cove, boaters disagreeing that the situation was as bad as it was being portrayed. With the members of the New Jersey State Marine Police present at that meeting, an agreement was reached saying that added police patrols at peak times would be the first step in resolving some of the issues.
With Chairman Russ Felter on vacation, Commissioner Dan McCarthy, representing Hopatcong, chaired the 55-minute July meeting.
During the commissioner’s comments portion of the meeting, Anne Seibert-Pravs, representing Mount Arlington, reported she was told by a member of the marine police that because of the increased police patrols on the water, the situation in Byram Cove had improved.
“Consequently they said they have not seen the ‘horrific’ actions described at the last meeting,” said Seibert-Pravs. “They say there has been an improvement.”
Steve Joseph, a Byram Cove lakefront resident and someone who regularly ties-up with friends in the cove concurs. He said he has noticed the noise level has been low and the police are there at all hours. But, he said, he didn’t think there was much of a problem to begin with.
“I don’t think there is huge room for improvement,” said Joseph, adding that some of the reports made public have been “fabricated or exaggerated.”

Dan Bello, environmental specialist for NJ DEP, reports on the weed harvesting program for Lake Hopatcong.
Dan Bello, environmental specialist for NJ DEP, reports on the weed harvesting program for Lake Hopatcong.

“We don’t want our community to be smeared all over the news,” he said. “As long as everyone is behaving there are no issues.”
The meeting switched gears with a report from Dan Bello who is in charge of the weed harvesting program in Lake Hopatcong for NJ State DEP.
According to Bello, with four harvesters in the water on a daily basis, 800 cubic yards of weeds has been removed in just 30 days.
“At this point I think we’re ahead of the game,” reported Bello, publicly praising supervisor Mike Calderio and his crew’s hard work.
Chris Piemontesi, a resident of Henderson Cove, begged to differ, reporting that the weeds in his cove have grown past the top of the water and are bent over. The weeds are so high, he said, he can no longer use his Waverunner.
Bello also reported that replacement parts still needed to repair two small weed harvesters and one transport barge are arriving sporadically. He said he expects to have all three machines up and running by mid-August. One of the small harvesters will be loaned to Lake Musconetcong as soon as it’s fixed.
According to Bello, a new website devoted just to the weed harvesting program will be online soon. And, a new sign will be hung at the Hopatcong State Park building making it easier for visitors to find him and his staff.
Before the end of the meeting, commissioner McCarthy opened a discussion about the snake reported in the lake near South New Jersey Avenue and Liffy Island, asking if anyone in the audience or on the commission had seen it.
Scott Carter, co-founder of the Byram Cove Party Facebook page, asked why more resources, specifically manpower, couldn’t be devoted to the search.
“Two people are chasing it. It seems they could use some help,” he said.
Jefferson resident Cliff Beebee said he saw what he believes to be a python on land on Halsey Island in May. Beebee described the snake he saw as being three inches in diameter and about 14 feet long. He did not report his sighting.
The next Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting will be held Monday, August 18 at the Jefferson Township municipal building. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

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Why are we loaning a weed harvester to Lake Muconetcong? Aren’t they overrun with water chestnut? Once there will we thoroughly clean that harvester before putting back in our lake? I say sell it to them, we won’t want it back!!

Shelli Skeels | July 27, 2014