Sylvan Beach, N.Y. - Sylvan Beach Mayor Greg Horan says he has been fielding a lot of calls from people asking whether the beach is open, and on Friday he wanted to get the word out that the beach is definitely open.
Earlier this spring the Sylvan Beach Village Board voted to no longer use village funds to pay for lifeguards and the expensive water testing required by New York State for the small 125 foot section of waterfront the village owns.
Horan says it was a financial decision, "Part of the issue was the blue-green algae issue that we had last year which I don't know if it's going to get worse or not. We had to have our lifeguards off over 30 days last year. As soon as you see algae you have to test that water. We have to drive that water, a sample of that water to Albany which is costly."
That 125 foot section of the beach has been used since the early 1990's as a lifeguard-patrolled area of the beach, but people have been able to enter the water from the entire 5,000 feet of the beach, so Horan says nothing has really changed except there won't be that small area that is patrolled by lifeguards, and there will be 'No Swimming' signs posted at the ends of that small 125 foot section.
The village had put up signs that say 'Warning : No Lifeguard on Duty, Swim at your own Risk" but the Oneida County Health Department, which enforces the state regulations involving swimming areas, is mandating that the village put up those 'No Swimming' signs posted at the ends of that small 125 foot section.
Horan says you can swim through the waters once you're in the water, you just can't enter the water from that small stretch of beach owned by the village.
Oneida County Health Environmental Health Director Dan Gilmore says the state regulation is to post the 'No Swimming' signs in waters that are changed from lifeguard-patrolled waters to waters without lifeguards, "When they decided to close, we requested a closure plan and as part of that plan we required that they have No Swimming signs posted to not encourage swimming in the former swimming area in anyway. People are accustomed to swimming there over the years and the beach has been there for decades and we did not want people to go there expecting to have a lifeguard and other safety features that bathing beaches are required to have."
Horan says there have been some rumors floating around, especially on social media, that the entire beach was closed and he wants to make sure people know that is not the case, "We're a tourist destination point, so the beach, that's all we have, and if people stop coming here because of a rumor or because of information that's not accurate, that doesn't do any good for anybody."