As the recent relapse into freezing temperatures melts away for good, the warmer weather ahead is certain to invite increased activity at Lake Benson.
People make good use of the boathouse at the lake, which opened March 17 and will close at the end of October. But every year, the town encounters some people who are uncertain of the rules for accessing the lake for recreational purposes.
“The main question we get is whether folks can bring their own boats, canoes, kayaks, etc.,” said Garner spokesman Rick Mercier. “The answer is, ‘No.’ City of Raleigh Public Utilities, which owns the lake and manages it as a drinking-water reservoir, forbids it.”
Garner joined Raleigh’s utility system in 2001, and the lake for several years has supplied water to Garner and portions of Raleigh through a treatment plant along Benson Road.
That doesn’t mean boats are banned altogether on the lake, where anglers chase bass, catfish and crappie among other fish. It just means people – even those who live on the lake – aren’t supposed to put their own boats in the water.
Jon boat, kayak and canoe rentals are available at the boathouse and dock located at 975 Buffaloe Road. Rates ranging from $4 an hour for a boat with no motor to $40 per day for one with a motor.
“After we added kayaks last year, we had a lot more people come out,” said Meredith Owens, a park attendant and recreation program specialist. “Not only fishermen are coming out anymore, we had a lot more for the recreational purposes, (people) who want to get out and see the lake.”
Town leaders encourage people to visit the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department website and familiarize themselves with the rules of the lake and boathouse ahead of a visit.
An easy one to overlook, Owens said, is that swimming is prohibited, since the lake is a source of drinking water.
Some of the basic boathouse rules are as follows:
▪ A person must be at least 16 years of age to rent a boat.
▪ The maximum per boat is three people.
▪ No dock fishing or boat rentals during inclement or threatening weather.
▪ Boat rentals end at 5 p.m.
▪ All boats must be returned to the dock by 6:30 p.m.
The boathouse is open only on weekends, primarily because it does not draw enough visitors on weekdays.
It also opens only on Saturdays and Sundays in July and August, when excessive heat becomes a deterrent.