Those who pass Spaulding Pond at Mohegan Park in Norwich will find the beach closed, the gates locked and signs that read, “Beach Opening TBA.”
“We’re trying our best. It’s frustrating. Especially on a hot day like this,” said Norwich City Manager John Salomone.
Like with most cities, budget concerns initially put money for Spaulding Pond lifeguards on the chopping block. But in an 11th hour decision, the council voted in mid-June to restore the approximately $38,000 item, according to Salomone. It’s the only public swimming area in Norwich, he added.
“But most of the lifeguards had found other employment by then. So that’s why we’re in the dilemma we’re in now,” Salomone said.
The city needs at least four lifeguards to staff the pond. They need to be at least 17-and-a-half years old and certified in CPR, First Aid and AED use.
Salomone said they only have one committed lifeguard, so far. And for the first time, the city would even be willing to pay to get qualified people certified.
Chris Robinson and Tiara Reay take a family walk though Mohegan Park every other day. They’d like to take a swim with their daughter afterwards.
“It is definitely disappointing,” Robinson said about the pond being closed.
“We’ve been waiting all year,” Reay added.
“It was close walking distance or (people) would take a bus. It would give the kids something fun to do,” said Robin Jablonski about the swimming area.
For about 35 years Jablonski has parked her ice cream truck outside Spaulding Pond.
While the city said they’ve reached out to the high school, regional YMCAs, put ads in the paper and plan to create something electronically, this closure hurts.
“It’s hurting me bad. It’s probably to the point I won’t be here next year,” Jablonski said.
Victoria Daniels, program administrator for the Norwich Recreation Department said with four lifeguards, the pond could be open Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The city would need six or seven lifeguards to keep the pond open seven days a week.