Closure of Woodstock swimming hole isn’t stopping visitors

Dozens of cars parked along the stretch of Route 212 in Woodstock adjacent to the Big Deep swimming hole on Satrurday. (photo by Dion Ogust)

Despite the recent closure of the town-owned spot off Route 212 east of the hamlet, people have decided it’s business-as-usual at the Big Deep swimming hole in Woodstock. Though its Route 212 entrance has been closed and barricaded, visitors are ignoring the signs and barriers. Several cars lined the shoulder along Route 212 and the Little Deep entrance off Zena Road over the last few weekends.

Town officials left Little Deep open because it consists mainly of hiking trails. The closure of Big Deep was to discourage large groups, but people have instead used Little Deep to gain access to Big Deep upstream.

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“Basically it’s not really stopping anything,” said councilman Reggie Earls, who raised the issue at the June 9 meeting of the town board. “You don’t have to be a genius to figure it out.” 

Two police officers on duty questioned whether writing tickets or conducting parking enforcement was the best use of their time. Police chief Clayton Keefe said officers have been ticketing cars that have caused a traffic hazard when parked over the shoulder line and encroaching upon the roadway. Having to walk through the property makes officers unavailable for other calls.

One access to the property is open while the other is closed. “That’s where the confusion is,” councilman Richard Heppner said.

Town supervisor Bill McKenna said he’d speak to highway superintendent Mike Reynolds about better signage at the site.

The partial closure seems to be reducing the amount of garbage at the site, a problem in recent summers.

Last year, the town resorted to shaming people into better behavior through social-media posts, stressing that the swimming hole might be closed if people didn’t clean up the site after themselves. It didn’t work. “Every weekend I would walk in there and I would beg people to help me keep Big Deep open,” said McKenna. People would politely agree to carry out the trash. “Yet every Monday there would be piles of garbage.”

Among McKenna’s concerns had been the potential Covid 19 exposure of maintenance workers cleaning up the area. “On a good day, that’s not a pleasant task,” he said.

There is one comment

  1. Bill H

    Perhaps Phase 3, which begins on Tuesday, is a time in which we can see it opened up again. Heck, if folks will be able to dine indoors again (with some restrictions, fo course), get a spa massage, etc., it seems they should be able to thoughtfully enjoy our local swimming hole.

    Since we are moving in the direction of carefully opening things up, I hope the town is not spending too much time and money working on further restrictions only to drop the issue once its a non-issue. At this point, as we enter Phase 3 on Tuesday, the way to deal with the unsafe parking on 212 is to open the Big Deep parking again and let people enjoy this great little bend in the creek.

    But by all means we need to deal with the other ongoing problem of disrespecting this wonderful space.

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