Chatham Town Board nixes pond swimming… for now

CHATHAM–The Town Board discussed activities at Crellin Park at the board meeting last week. The board holds meetings now on the online Google meeting platform and for this meeting the board allowed community members to comment during discussions.

After the May 21 meeting, Supervisor Donal Collins released a statement on the town’s website and Facebook page, saying that permissible activities at Crellin Park include tennis (singles only on one court, players are asked to open gate with towel or glove), walking, fishing and working in the community garden. These activities are “permitted as long as social distancing is maintained, with masks being worn when distancing measures cannot be met.”

The statement also says, “The skateboard park, playing fields, basketball court, playground apparatuses, swimming area and all other areas not listed will remain closed for the time being.”

“We are truly grateful for your patience and understanding during this pandemic. The health, safety and welfare of our residents are of utmost importance to the Town Board,” the statement reads.

There was lengthy discussion at the meeting about what activities are safe at the park and what people currently do there. As the state reopens after the “Pause” and-stay-at-home orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted, state beaches are opening. Right now the board has decided to not allow swimming in the Crellin Park pond, since generally the pond does not open until late June. The town is still waiting to decide whether to hire lifeguards.

The board decided at a meeting earlier in May to cancel the summer day camp recreation program for children. Councilwoman Abi Mesick had concerns that opening the pond would mean allowing activities at the beach similar to they ones they were trying to avoid when the board shut down the camp.

“I totally don’t understand if the camp was closed why would we open the beach?” she said at the meeting.

Councilman Vance Pitkin said he reviewed a plan to open the beach from town Recreation Director Mike West. He said it was a good plan that made him feel optimistic about opening the beach.

Board member John Wapner was concerned about information the board receives before meetings so that they can discuss these issues.

Supervisor Collins said that he wanted to form a general reopening town committee that would look at the park, the Town Hall and the Town Court. Town Court is held at the Tracy Memorial Chatham Village Hall. The Town Hall, on Route 295, has been closed to the public since mid-March and meetings have been held online.

Mr. Collins said he was soliciting help from the community and that the committee would be looking at every part of the town.

Also at the meting:

• Councilman Wapner said he had talked with CARP (Chatham Area Recreation Project) about the summer Park Day at Crellin and they plan to reschedule the event for the fall. CARP hosts the event in the town park

• Councilman Kevin Weldon said he had quotes for repairs needed on the Electric Car Charger in the municipal parking lot in the village. The charger is still working. The board plans to discuss the damage and the costs more before approving the bid for the work.

The next regular Town Board meeting will be June 18 at 6:30 p.m. For more information on the format of that meeting and other workshop meetings, go to the town’s website at

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