A walk around the beach area and nearby picnic and play area shows tables with built-in benches badly in need of paint, with some having broken boards on the surface. One has been lifted up from the ground, where it had been buried.
Several grills have been ripped loose from the soil holding them, their concrete bases exposed. An abutment under the Route 9W/Route 32 bridge is covered in graffiti, some newer tags overlapping the earlier ones.
Village officials say a rough winter and the state crews that painted the bridge are to blame and the park will be in good condition by July 1, when the beach is slated to open.
There have been some complaints about the condition of the picnic area, especially, but “we will be cleaning it up and we will have it ready for the season,” said George Terpening, who heads the Saugerties Village Department of Parks, Recreation and Grounds.
“We’ll be starting to clean up Monday,” Terpening said on Friday, June 13. Referring to a photo of a broken table in the picnic area, Terpening said a branch had fallen on it. “The bridge people [painters and finishers] took over the beach area, and they didn’t clean up after themselves.”
As in past years, people have begun using the beach area for swimming and picnicking before the official July 1 opening date. While signs warn that swimming is prohibited when there’s no lifeguard, many people routinely ignore the signs, Terpening said.
One reason the beach maintenance starts shortly before the season begins is that during the fall, winter and early spring, Terpening’s staff is just two – himself and one other full-time worker. The Parks, Recreation and Grounds Department gains six part-timers during the summer, and this provides lifeguards and beach maintenance. The department is responsible for upkeep of all the village parks – the Lions Club playground on Washington Ave., the Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park on East Bridge St. and Seamon Park on Malden Ave. In addition, the department also maintains the C.A. Lynch Firehouse on Hill St. and the village firehouse and village office on Partition St., including the upstairs Donlon Auditorium.
“We have a lot on our plate, and not enough staff to maintain an area that isn’t open yet,” Terpening said. “We will have the beach ready by the opening day.”
But will we be able to swim? As of last week, that was in doubt.
Terpening said the village has been unable to find lifeguards to man the beach and Lions Club pool. Mayor William Murphy is asking certified lifeguards in need of summer work to contact the village Clerk Mary Frank at (845) 246-2321 ext. 1.
Regarding the graffiti under the bridge, Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said it appeared that some of it may have been painted by bridge workers, based on similarities to writing on the temporary screening they had placed while painting the bridge. However, he said, this is speculation.
Sinagra said it is tough to track vandalism, especially in areas as remote as the underside of the bridge. However, the incidence of vandalism in the downtown area has been greatly reduced since surveillance cameras were installed.
“We will be putting another camera in that will give us a view down to the bridge,” Sinagra said. “If we come in contact with people, we can check whether they have spray cans of paint or smell of paint.”
Graffiti have been a problem for many years, Sinagra said. Some of what is under the bridge “has been there for years.”
On the bright side, none of the painting appears to be gang related – no tags that identify gangs, as have appeared in other areas, Sinagra said. And, he added, some of the tags show a talent for art that he would like to see put to better use.
“I would love to have a mural painted,” he said. “The back wall of police headquarters is bare; I would love to have a mural there.”