By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — For years, the two boat docks have sat along the edge of Arlington Pond, unnoticed by most people.
That is, until two months ago.
That’s when someone called Town Hall to report the two docks and a third floatable dock were illegally put on town property and should be removed. It didn’t matter that one had been there since at least the 1970s.
But now, town officials have asked Aulson Road residents Gina Leone-Osgood and Nimesh Parikh to remove the docks, saying they do not have the required state permits and the docks are a potential liability.
Leone-Osgood and Parikh appeared before selectmen earlier this week and asked to keep the docks near their homes. Leone-Osgood lives at 4 Aulson Road and Parikh is a resident of 6 Aulson Road. A dirt path near their homes leads to the waterfront.
Town Manager Keith Hickey and selectmen said they are concerned the docks could lead to a costly lawsuit against the town.
“If anything happens out there, we own it,” Selectman Michael Lyons said.
Five boats used the three docks until recently, when one dock and boat were removed by their owner, Hickey said.
Only Leone-Osgood’s and Parikh’s docks remain, along with four boats, he said.
The two neighbors said they have taken care of the docks and property for years and no one complained until now. Parikh has lived on Aulson Road for 13 years and said his dock was there when he bought the property.
Leone-Osgood said her dock has been there since before her family bought their home in the 1970s.
“We have maintained that area as our own,” Parikh said. “We have made improvements to the area.”
Hickey didn’t say who complained to the town, and Parikh said yesterday he still does not know. The third dock that was removed was owned by a man who doesn’t even live in the neighborhood, Parikh said.
Hickey said the two neighbors have cooperated after being contacted by the town, which had not realized the docks were on municipal land. There have been no reports of problems with the docks, he said.
“We really just want to come to a fair solution for everyone,” Leone-Osgood said.
But selectmen decided the boats need to be removed by Monday. The docks cannot be removed until the next water drawdown, which is in about three weeks.
The town property is in two sections, including one part that extends near Wheeler Dam, according to town planner Ross Moldoff.
The expectation is the docks will no longer be allowed on town property after this year, but a disappointed Parikh hopes an agreement can be reached.
Otherwise, there’s not much he can do, he said.
“If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out,” Parikh said.