County beaches may not open this year

County beaches may not open this year
The beach at Huletts Landing.

Lake Lauderdale Beach in the town of Jackson.

By PJ Ferguson

The Washington County Beach in Huletts Landing may be closed for the summer.

County administrator Chris Debolt suggested the move, adding that not hiring park staff would save the county $90,000 in the general fund. The supervisors on the government operations committee voted 4-3 for the closure.

The pavilion and beach would be fenced off, though the gate will remain open for people to launch kayaks and other recreational watercrafts from the dock. The county will erect signs provided by the state that encourage social distancing and designate that the beach is closed.

The Lake Lauderdale Beach in the town of Jackson would also be closed, though its hiking trails will remain open.

Some county supervisors were weary of the motion.

Whitehall town supervisor John Rozell asked if the county would have time to staff the park if the governor were to allow the reopening of recreational facilities.

However, while building and grounds superintendent Matt Jones acknowledged that the circumstances around the pandemic and closures could change, the board needed to decide immediately on the issue to properly provide time for hiring.

“If come July everything changes, we are going to have a black eye for not having that beach open,” admitted Jones.

Rozell and Dresden supervisor Paul Ferguson advocated against closing the beaches.

“I would also have to be against it,” said Ferguson, agreeing with Rozell’s stance. “I think we are a little premature on closing it for the year.”

Fort Edward supervisor Lester Losaw also voted against the motion, while Granville supervisor Matt Hicks, Hampton supervisor Dave O’Brien, Hartford supervisor Dana Haff, and Hebron supervisor Brian Campbell voted to close the beaches.

Motions during committee meetings are passed by a majority rather than the weighted system that is used during full board of supervisors’ meetings. The issue will further be addressed during Friday’s regular meeting.