Too many geese, too few lifeguards in Rockingham

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BELLOWS FALLS — Rockingham Recreation Director Ryan Stoodley said he'd love to extend the swimming season at the town pool, but the problem is lifeguards.

Stoodley said Tuesday that those lifeguards who aren't headed back to college, have athletic practice starting at 4 p.m., leaving him with no alternative to cover the pool.

Select Board member Doreen Aldrich had asked Stoodley if the swimming season couldn't be extended, but Stoodley said it wasn't a matter of money, but lifeguards.

"It's always a lifeguard situation," he said.

Aldrich said she always felt bad that the pool closed, even while it was hot.

He said the same problem exists at the Saxtons River Recreation Area. He said Saxtons River would be closing for the season this Friday, although people would be able to swim there "at their own risk" after the gates were closed.

He said the town had also received a complaint about the cleanliness of the water at Saxtons River, and that the water had been tested again. An earlier test showed the water was safe for swimming.

The problem, he said, was a flock of Canada geese that have taken up residence at the rec area, which is located on Pleasant Valley Road in a rural area outside of Saxtons River.

"They are pooping everywhere," he said. "There's a lot of feces everywhere," he said.

He said a group of local volunteers that run the rec area had installed some flashing red lights to try and deter the geese, but the lights had been vandalized.

Stoodley said the Saxtons River lifeguards pick up as much of the goose droppings as they can when they show up for work in the mornings.

Stoodley said the use of the pool in Bellows Falls was strong, with more than 120 kids - and some adults - using the pool on these hot summer afternoons. He said he had also held some "midnight swims," although he said he closed the pool at about 10 p.m.

Stoodley said he wouldn't have any guards on Aug. 18, and just a handful on succeeding days and for a limited time frame.

Aldrich suggested Stoodley include some programs for adults, in addition to his variety of programs for children.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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