Smithfield beaches closed for the summer

Smithfield beaches closed for the summer

Other recreation activities getting started

SMITHFIELD – Both Greenlake and Georgiaville Pond beaches will remain closed to swimming this summer, Recreation Director Robert Caine confirmed this week, saying the decision was made early in the season.

He said Greenlake Beach, also known as Slacks Pond, and Georgiaville will remain open for recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, picnics, hiking, and fishing. He said parking lots will remain open for boat ramps.

“The wording is beach closed, no swimming permitted,” Caine said.

Absolutely no swimming will be allowed, Caine said, adding that there will be no lifeguard on duty. He said the Recreation Department has received several calls about the beaches reopening, but said it is unlikely to happen this year.

“Basically, we’re trying to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, we cannot open the beaches,” he said.

The town announced the closures last week, despite deciding on this course of action in early spring.

“People can still come and sit on the grass and watch the water,” Caine said.

He, Town Manager Randy Rossi, and Emergency Management Services Director Todd Manni decided together in April to close the beaches. He said it would be impossible to maintain social distancing on the beaches due to the small size of the facilities.

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“Beaches are so small to begin with that if you reduce that size, you don’t really have much room left,” he said.

Caine said the town will not charge for access to Georgiaville this year, but the main parking lot is closed.

The town will continue to test the waters if an algae bloom is discovered, but Caine said Smithfield is not obligated to do so due to closure.

He added that the same policies of taking trash with you and no dogs allowed are still in effect. Recreation workers are reporting an increase in litter at the parks, he said.

Caine added that other recreation activities are happening over the summer in Smithfield. Recreational baseball and soccer have begun “glorified practices,” he said.

The town’s tennis program stopped offerings to adults and children, but will keep the program for young adults and teenagers. Basketball courts will open this week as well, Caine said.

Public basketball courts include facilities at Deerfield Park, Lisa Ann Circle, and Anna McCabe Elementary School. Caine said people should follow state social distancing gatherings when using courts or while on town property.

Courts at Old County Road Elementary School are being torn up and replaced and are still only for school use.

Even if the state loosened up on social distancing guidelines and gathering limits, Rossi said Smithfield would not have the time to find lifeguards. He explained that the town has struggled every year to find certified lifeguards, which was no different this year.

Advertisements for positions go out as early as February, Rossi said. Each shift needs at least three lifeguards according to regulations, two to watch swimmers and one on standby, he said.

Offering positions to lifeguards to later turn around and take them back due to beach closures did not sit well with him, Rossi said.

Caine said some staff members will be welcomed back to work as gatekeepers to ensure people are not swimming and that they are following public property rules. He said staff members may also do light painting and upkeep on beach buildings.

According to Caine, the Recreation Department is busier than ever helping other town departments, such as delivering with Meals on Wheels for the senior center and taking care of the fields, town properties and cemeteries.