Amherst beach limits entry

AMHERST – After the Baboosic Lake Town Beach was bombarded by visitors on July Fourth, the town began limiting the admission of non-residents. So far the policy is working well and there have been few complaints from people who were turned away, Town Administrator Jim O’Mara told selectmen last week.

Beginning July 14, the beach is open on weekends and holidays only to Amherst residents and their guests and season pass holders and their guests.

Up until this summer, anyone could pay to get in.

“Improvements have made the beach a popular place,” Recreation Director Craig Fraley told selectmen last month when he proposed the restrictions. On July 4, he said, there were nearly 400 non-residents and a total of 600 people. The new restrictions are aimed at keeping the number of visitor at about 300, without capping the number of people allowed in.

Roads leading to the beach were lined with vehicles, and he was concerned that emergency vehicles might have trouble getting through.

At the selectmen’s July 23 meeting, O’Mara told the board that seven non-residents were turned away each day on July 14 and 15 and only one person complained. And on Saturday, July 21, 20 people were turned away and two expressed their unhappiness.

Selectmen had been concerned about protecting the young beach staff from angry people, so the town had police in dress-down detail and a representative of the Department of Public Works on the scene, and it worked well, O’Mara said.

Beach attendance was not good that first weekend, but “nevertheless, I think the policy is important,” he said.

Fraley will analyze the numbers, including the number of out-of-town season passes.

The new policy went into effect on July 14 and will continue through Labor Day.

Under the policy, guests are required to pay either the resident or the non-resident gate fee and must also be accompanied by an Amherst resident or season pass holder for the duration of their visit.

Board Chairman Dwight Brew stressed that the policy was instituted for safety reasons, and it will be revisited at the end of the year.

Selectman Peter Lyon, concerned that the policy would confuse out-of-towners, proposed it cover seven days a week.

Fraley, however, said his goal is to keep the beach self-funding, and non-resident fees generate income.

“There will definitely be a learning curve, he said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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