Blocked Deerfield boat launch bothers some canoeists, kayakers

Gate put up after drowning in river last summer

DEERFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The road to a Deerfield boat launch is blocked near the Stillwater Bridge. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife installed the padlocked gate last year for safety reasons.

Deerfield Police Chief John Paciorek told 22News that the gate was put up to restrict access only to emergency vehicles. The town decided to install the locked gate after a UMass Lowell student drowned in the Deerfield River last summer.

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The recreation area also has limited parking, and this is the closest spot for police cars to park in case of any emergencies.

Still, Paul Luippold of Greenfield said that it makes it difficult for older people to canoe or kayak.

“This is the only place to launch a canoe, unless you are young and strong to carry over that bank- that something could be done to allow seniors and handicapped individuals access to the river,” Luippold said.

Paciorek said that they also want to preserve the road, which has been eroding over the years with all the vehicles that have driven over it.

The Deerfield Police and Fire Departments and South County EMS all have keys to unlock the gate.