JOHNSBURG - Heavily debated at Monday night's Johnsburg Town Board meeting, the fate of the public beach off Route 28 in North Creek is in limbo. The board unanimously approved a motion to appoint Delaware Engineering to approach the Department of Health (DOH) and other regulatory agencies regarding possible solutions.
Swimming and recreational use of the town beach and surrounding grounds has been prohibited since last August pending further attention from DOH and the Johnsburg Town Board. Public use of the restricted area could result in a $2,000 fine.
The facility was closed after public concern regarding the water safety resulted in tests of the water clarity. The tests revealed that a clarity disk could not be seen at a four foot depth as per regulations. The beach revealed a clarity depth of roughly 2.5 to 3 feet.
Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said the board would like to do whatever they can to reopen the beach, but will not do it at the expense of taxpayers.
"Those of us who grew up here know that the beach is a well-known and popular part of the community," he said. "In an area, however, where many live below the poverty line and struggle to pay their taxes, we have to be considerate."
Many objected to further time and money being invested in to the property, as roughly $250,000 has already been spent on the project throughout its existence. Projects have included a dam, a berm and dredging efforts. If left to revert back to a natural pond, the area would still require an engineering plan, according to Delaware Engineering.
The spectrum of possible solutions include closing the beach for good as well as investing $6,000-$8,000 toward a sanitation survey and an eight-week sampling program. Other suggested courses of action include an aeration system or fountain, as well as the introduction of a carp species that will eat away the organic matter and vegetation growing in the body of water.
Some present at the meeting were dedicated to doing whatever it takes to get the beach operational for the people of Johnsburg.
"This is an asset for the town of Johnsburg," said youth committee member Vince Schavone. "We have to look out for the well-being of our youth and we have worked hard to develop a successful swim program that should continue."
Others said the property fits well with the overall goal of the North Creek community to be a four-season destination.
"Closing it means we will never get it back," said Gore Mountain Regional Chamber of Commerce President Dave Bulmer. "A place to swim is an important part of our long-range plan."
Board members said the beach will most likely not be open this summer.
"We now have a big window of time to figure out what we are going to do," said board member Ron Vanslow.
While Delaware Engineering works with regulatory agencies regarding the possible reopening of the facility, the board will work on drafting a possible referendum for the September primary election, to allow the voters in Johnsburg to voice their opinion on the project.
Delaware Engineering will report back to the full board with a proposal for moving forward at the May 3 town board meeting.