The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is increasing patrols at Quaddick State Park in Thompson after receiving complaints about crowds gathering at the lake and ignoring safety rules.
"This has to stop," said Jane Howell, who lives on Quaddick Lake. "Someone will get hurt."
Howell and her neighbors have documented groups of people she said are acting recklessly on the lake this summer. In the videos, people can be seen swimming in the lake, which is not allowed right now. Howell also has videos of people riding jet-skis on the lake, not following safety protocols.
"They come between tubers and boats, running over ropes," said Howell.
A spokesperson for DEEP said that they are increasing patrols in response to the complaints. The spokesperson said that officers have already issued several citations for improper use of a jet-ski, riding without proper certification and no life jackets. People who violate the no swimming rule are also subject to a citation.
In addition, DEEP is looking into claims that the jet-skis are being rented illegally. There is an ongoing investigation into the matter.
"Unfortunately the misbehavior usually happens when the police have left," said Will Healey, media relations manager for DEEP. "We are trying to deploy our resources as best we can right now. We are spread pretty thin. There are different issues at parks in different parts of the state with people violating what our recommended park usage is."
Healey said that DEEP cannot say for certain what is drawing more crowds this year or whether the pandemic has had an effect, but he said the issue is on their radar. Healey stressed the importance of people following all safety rules.
"It is not even a swim at your own risk situation. It is not permitted," said Healey.
A spokesperson for DEEP said they have received reports that many of the people who are not following safety protocols are from out of state.
DEEP has opened several inland swimming areas recently. Healey said that DEEP is considering opening the swimming area at Quaddick State Park, depending on resources available.
First Selectwoman of Thompson, Amy St. Onge, said that she has put in a request with the state to close the park, but since the park is on state property, she does not have control over that happening. She said that she will work with the state to determine a solution.
"Make sure that our residents and the visitors to Quaddick State park are safe," said St. Onge.
Howell said that she does not want the park to have to close. She said that it is nice when people can enjoy the water, safely. Howell is hoping that DEEP can increase their patrols to address the issue.
"The lake is supposed to be peaceful and it is not peaceful at all," said Howell.