Those entering the recently closed Big Deep and Little Deep in Woodstock now face a trespassing charge due to recent enforcement efforts by the town. Crowding and piles of garbage forced the Town of Woodstock to close popular Big Deep swimming hole.
Now that closing includes Little Deep. The town-owned property has now posted No Trespassing. If caught by police patrolling the area, violators will be issued a warning the first time, then a court summons if seen again.
“The Town of Woodstock has not come to this decision lightly,” the town posted on its Facebook page. “We tried to keep Big Deep and Little Deep open to the public, but time and time again have found littering and messes left behind by visitors. Add to this the need to maintain safety during the pandemic, and the present situation is unworkable. We truly wish that it did not come down to this.”
The posting has prompted 633 comments and has been shared more than 1000 times. Most of the commenters are understanding and have suggested volunteer cleanups. Supervisor Bill McKenna said the June 26 post has reached 150,000 people.
McKenna said groups of sometimes 20 to 30 people were entering the property and some were using it as a restroom. “Garbage was one part of it,” McKenna said by phone.“The second part was having to send the employees to pick it up. It’s not likely you can get the virus off garbage, but I didn’t want to chance it.”
McKenna explained resources are already stretched thin. Maintenance staff is already trying to spend its time keeping town offices clean and safe for employees.
“It’s the most miserable thing I had to do as supervisor,” McKenna said of the closing.
McKenna noted a number of people have offered to do a cleanup. He is hopeful the town can assemble a volunteer corps so that the popular sites can reopen.
Last year, Woodstock approved a permit system so officials could keep track of people using the property and hold them accountable for trash left behind or other violations of rules. The board had to scrap the plan when state and county officials told them the town would be assume liability if it issued permits, requiring the expense of hiring a lifeguard.
McKenna said his door is always open to suggestions of workable solutions to keep the swimming holes open to the public.