Popularity often comes at a cost. This was certainly true for Peekamoose Blue Hole, a swimming hole that is part of Sundown wild forest in Denning. Folks flocked to it once it was listed in tourism literature as one of the best spots to swim in the state. Along with a high volume of people came a high volume of trash.
By the close of summer last year, the amount of litter and even human waste that had been left behind was so immense that the Department of Environmental Conservation installed a dumpster at the site, according to the Watershed Post. On May 25 this year, the DEC issued emergency regulations at the swimming spot, including the prohibition of glass containers, fires and radios. The regulations also require “the use of the portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste.”
Now that Saugerties has been cited on many tourist lists as one of the “coolest small towns,” could a similar fate befall our swimming areas? As for the Village Beach, George Terpening, who heads the village department of parks, says he has not noticed an increase in visitors to the beach in recent years. There has been an increase in the number of kayakers.
Terpening says a regular maintenance schedule has been enough to keep any mess at bay. Police patrols in the area have been ramped up. The graffiti found by the beach last year was painted over eight months ago, and there has no repetition of the vandalism. That suggests to him that those responsible might have moved away or “grew up.”
Another local spot for wading in Saugerties is near the lighthouse. Lighthouse keeper Patrick Landewe hopes the site won’t be included in the same types of lists as was Peekamoose. He hasn’t taken any actions in response to the events of last summer. He does caution, though, that the shoreline by the lighthouse is not an officially designated swimming hole. There is no lifeguard, nor receptacles to dispose of trash.
While residents are welcome to wade, Landewe reminded the public that “the primary mission of the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy is to preserve the historic landmark and to share its legacy with the public.”