Woodstock continues to debate opening swimming holes

Woodstock’s town board continues to try to devise ways to open Big and Little Deep and provide a relief from the heat. “I just want to make sure we’re looking ahead and planning,” said councilman Richard Heppner at the July 21 meeting of the town board, Heppner has pushed for a reopening. “It would be a nice spot to cool off on a 95-degree day for people who don’t have access to a pool or can’t afford an air conditioner,” he said.

Councilman Lorin Rose said the town needs to provide a dumpster and port-a-potty or it will likely get trashed again. Rose noted the town goes out of its way for affluent white people but doesn’t provide enough opportunities for the disadvantaged.

Heppner said he’s looking at ways to leave a dumpster accessible to users, but not easy for people to dump their household trash in. At the same time, it needs to be reachable by a garbage truck.


Councilman Reggie Earls, who recently visited the sites, noted he was pleased with how clean they were now that they were closed. “There wasn’t any trash. It was beautiful,” he said. People should be able to enjoy the areas in a safe way.

Supervisor Bill McKenna suggested opening Big and Little Deeper a few weekdays as a trial to allow the locals access and see what happens. “It’s a beautiful spot, and I would like to see access to it,” Earls said.

Heppner addressed the makeshift barricades made from traffic cones and police tape. He suggested something more permanent, like a gate.

“That was the police department that did it out of frustration, I believe,” McKenna said. Officers were tired of seeing people go past the No Trespassing signs.

Still to be determined is whether the town can limit access to residents only or charge extra for nonresidents. Would a permit system be discriminatory? The town wants to discuss a plan with state officials that doesn’t require a lifeguard. Two years ago, the town board developed a permit system, but had to scrap it after state health officials said the town would then assume liability, triggering the lifeguard requirement.

There are 3 comments

  1. roger

    Having closed the Millstream and restricted parking at other sites, McKenna and council are on the spot to provide swimming access to the town of Woodstock. It’s also time to stop blaming those “outsiders” for trashing our swimming holes. Any place that is used by people is going to have some refuse–particularly when there is nowhere else to put it. So start making some accommodation for litter and most people will respect it. And stop blaming outsiders for Woodstock’s poor planning.

    I’d also like to point out the proliferation of “Private Property” signs all along the Sawkill. These signs are illegal. No one owns the rights to flowing water. I would expect the McKenna and the council to address this issue. Posting illegal private property signs deprives the public of the use of OUR water.

  2. Bill H

    I hope any permit system would include a family that lives on the western edge of Saugerties that has been a part of the Woodstock community and economy for a long time!

  3. Daniel Clarke

    To those sanctimonious “water rights” writers posting here and elsewhere: you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. For those of us who actually live along the Millstream, it has become a nightmare ever since the NYT article in 2013, which mischaracterized these spots as pubic, and the subsequent popularization of the two Millstream swimming holes (Sully’s and Ed Alyn’s) on social media. To be clear these spots are smack dab in the middle of a RESIDENTIAL NIEGHBORHOOD and the quiet enjoyment of property owners and residents has been obliterated. In fact I have spoken to at least one owner who said they bought their property in the winter and would never had done so if they had known how much their property value would depreciate because of this situation. What about their rights?? I was just down at one of these spots today. (I have the owner’s explicit permission), and there was a discarded virus mask and a dirty diaper and all manner of detritus strewn about. I’ve been documenting this by photo for years and have sent many to this paper who so far have declined to publish them. And now with the pandemic it’s like a super spreader event every nice day, large groups, almost no masking or social distancing, in direct contravention of Cuomo’s directives. It looks like a microcosm of the pictures we see from places like Florida. When we step out to our mailboxes we could be walking into a virus infected plume, because no one even seems to be having a mask even around their clueless necks. I’ve accidentally come face to face with some unconscious, grinning idiots, just picking up my mail. Not cool. Also, I’ve noticed some private property signs have been vandalized and torn down. Because the town seems to be incapable of helping us with this situation, whoever is doing that should mind their business and let the Millstreamers try to handle this major problem as best we can.

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