SAXTONS RIVER -- After looking at the possibility of having to close down the Saxtons River Rec Area due to a lack of committee involvement, a group of area residents have vowed to join the organization and keep the area open.
Saxtons River Rec Area Inc., the nonprofit that is charged with maintaining and managing the popular swimming and picnic area, was down to one member who said he was going to leave after the end of this year.
At an emergency meeting called this week, about 18 people showed up to support the park and say they wanted to make sure area families had access to the facilities.
"It's wonderful news that people are ready to step up," Saxtons River Village Trustees Chairwoman Louise Luring said about the renewed interest in the rec area. "It shows that people care about the rec area. I think the new vitality will really get things going up there."
The land that is now called the Saxtons River Rec Area was given to a local nonprofit in 1966, and for more than 40 years the area opened every summer with little controversy.
A few years ago, because the area was owned by a nonprofit, and not by the town of Rockingham or the village of Saxtons River, it was determined that the town and village insurance policies did not cover the area.
The village of Saxtons River ultimately took over ownership so the activities at the swimming area and ball fields could be covered under the village insurance policy.
At the meeting this week in Saxtons River, more than a dozen people came out to say that they refused to allow the area to close.
"The rec area is very important for Saxtons River," said village resident Chris Moore, who is ready to take on the role of chairman of the group. "It's a place that people can walk to from the village, and a place that gives families something to do in the summer without having to travel too far. We've got to keep it going."
Moore said many of the people who showed up for the meeting Monday did not realize that the committee only had one person on it, and he said there was strong support for maintaining, and improving the area.
There is some money in the organization's account, though fundraising will be one of the first responsibilities to take on.
And some of the facilities, such as the bathhouse, need some upgrading, which is also going to cost some money.
There area has a covenant on it, which says local residents can't be charged for using it, so Moore says the group is going to have to get creative to raise the money needed to maintain and upgrade the park.
Moore grew up in Saxtons River.
He played baseball there as a child and his three children now use the park throughout the summer.
Moore said the town of Rockingham supplies lifeguards and runs the summer camp program, and there is plenty of need for a safe place for families to spend the long summer days.
He said the area just needs some people to take on the responsibility of caring for it, and after this week's meeting he said the rec area will stay open beyond the 2012 season.
"I think people did not realize that the committee had dwindled down to one person. It sounded desperate and people realized that if they didn't step up it could close," Moore said. "Just as the generation before us kept it going, now it is our turn. The ball is in our court."
The new Saxtons River Rec Area committee will meet on Tuesday, July 17, at 7 p.m. at the rec area.
Anyone who wants to get involved should come out to that meeting to learn more.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279