Area residents can drop a line into the Muskingum and Ohio rivers or even take a swim from Marietta's four city-owned boat docks, according to legislation recently approved by city council. In fact, the only activity prohibited by the new regulations is mooring boats overnight at the day-use facilities.
The ability to fish from city docks was good news for Ashleigh Keyes, who just moved to Marietta from the Pittsburgh area.
"I moved here because I really like the town and its history, but I also like to fish," she said. "And I'm a big fan of catfishing. We're living in the downtown area, so I would probably make use of the city docks for fishing."
Her friend, Schivon Salamonsen of Waterford, agreed.
"I often swim in the Muskingum, so I would probably swim off the city's docks, too," she said.
Efforts to establish rules governing use of the docking facilities began after installation of a new set of docks off Fort Street near the west end of the Harmar Railroad Bridge earlier this year.
About Marietta's boat docks:
Marietta maintains four city boat docking facilities.
The docks are located along the Ohio River near the parking lot on the south side of the Lafayette Hotel; on the Muskingum River behind the Marietta Harbor and National Guard Armory; on the Muskingum below Fort Street near the west end of the Harmar Railroad Bridge; and at the Indian Acres Park boat ramp.
New regulations passed by Marietta City Council last week prohibit overnight mooring at city docks except at the Lafayette Docks during designated festivals.
Fishing and swimming are allowed from all four city docks.
Source: City of Marietta
"This issue came up because of the Harmar docks," said Paul Bertram III, city law director.
"The idea was to provide docks on that side of the Muskingum so that people could tie up their boats and go into town for a meal or do some shopping," he said. "But if boats were left there overnight, the docks could become overcrowded which would defeat the whole purpose."
Bertram said the city had no regulations on the books governing city docks use, so council members decided in July that some rules should be put in place and asked the law director to develop proper legislation.
In addition to no overnight mooring, the regulations originally proposed included no swimming; no consumption of alcoholic beverages; no smoking; no bicycles, scooters, skates, skateboards, roller blades, pogo sticks or remote control devices; no littering; and no fishing, except from the concrete Lafayette Docks on the Ohio River near the Lafayette Hotel.
The legislation was introduced during the Aug. 15 city council meeting.
"But there was no support from council for that much regulation," said Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs council's lands, buildings and parks committee.
He said constituents were also concerned about the proposed rules, especially those prohibiting fishing from the public docks.
"Also, who would be enforcing these regulations?" Noland asked.
The committee continued to discuss the proposed rules and finally settled on the amended legislation that was approved during council's Sept. 20 session.
Two ordinances were adopted last week-the first designates names for each of the four city docks as the Lafayette Docks, Ice Harbor (current Marietta Harbor) Docks, Harmar Docks,and Indian Acres Docks.
That piece of legislation also sets the hours and rules for no overnight mooring, with the exception of the Lafayette Docks during approved festivals. Regular hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The second ordinance establishes penalties for violation of the docking facilities rules and hours.
Bertram said an overnight mooring violation at the docks would be considered criminal trespass and is punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail.
Marietta Police would be charged with enforcing the ordinance.
Capt. Jeff Waite said there have been few issues related to the city docks in the past.
"And we don't anticipate overnight docking will be a huge problem to enforce," he said.
The new legislation was officially signed into law last week by Mayor Joe Matthews.