Pomps Pond celebrated a milestone this summer — 90 years of public swimming, as of Aug. 1.
But this year, the pond became a victim of its own success — and longevity — as lifeguards and staff members were overwhelmed by crowds of people from all over the Merrimack Valley seeking to escape the oppressive mid-July heat.
At first, town officials tried dealing with the large crowds by banning out-of-towners from the beach, located off Abbot Street.
But as outlined in a story in The Eagle-Tribune and later in the Andover Townsman, the decision violated the provisions of a 1974 federal grant used to build the bathhouse and snack bar. So the town changed course, overturned the ban on non-residents, and decided instead to simply limit the number of people entering the facility on hot days.
Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski said he spoke with someone at the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs who shed light on the federal grant.
“We opened it up a few days after we spoke with her,” Stapczynski said.
Now, town officials, including Mary Montbleau, director of community services, and Kim Stamas, recreation coordinator, will use the off-season to review the policies at Pomps Pond and put a plan in place for next season, Stapczynski said.
“We will open it to the public, but there will be controls as far as the number of individuals allowed in at any one time,” he said. “We have to control it for public safety purposes.”
Pomps Pond closed to beach-goers for the season this past Sunday, although organized activities, including a stand-up paddleboard class, a fishing workshop and volleyball program, are continuing through the rest of this week.
Montbleau said that other than the controversy over who could swim at the pond — and the tornado warnings that swept through town in early July — the summer season at Pomps Pond was a success. But the crowds that sought refuge from the heat did present their share of challenges, she said.