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Cunningham pond expands opportunities and stays reservation-only

  • Peterborough Recreation Department lifeguard Nikki Bell leads swimming lessons at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough last week. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

  • Swim lessons have resumed at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough. July 9, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Swim lessons have resumed at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough. July 9, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Swim lessons have resumed at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough. July 9, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Swim lessons have resumed at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough. July 9, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/15/2020 4:16:47 PM

Peterborough’s Cunningham Pond has gradually expanded access since reopening on June 1. Advance reservations are still required for use, Recreation Director Lisa Betz said, but some swimming lessons have resumed at the town beach, which is staffed by lifeguards and attendants.

The town property closed to the public on May 4 out of COVID-19 concerns and reopened on a reservation-only basis, limited to 10 cars at the beach at a time. That limit is now up to 15, and the Recreation Department permits some walk-ins now, as well as boat rentals and swimming lessons. “It was easier to add than subtract,” Betz said, as town employees watched to determine whether appropriate physical distancing guidelines were being met on the beach.

Currently, Peterborough residents and out-of-towners who had already purchased a 2020 beach pass can reserve one of two time slots every day, either 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., or 2:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., and can come or go anytime in that slot. For the most part, users are limiting themselves to two reservations a week to give others a chance, Betz said. Many people have requested quick evening access for swimming or taking their dog out at the end of the day, and staff have been allowing walk-ins on evenings where a reserved party left for the day, she said. Private and group swimming lessons are now available for children accompanied by a parent, and visitors who bring their own flotation device can rent boats.

“It’s hard. Change is hard, and people are frustrated with the process,” she said when asked about the public response to reservation-only swimming, but, “it’s the best way to give them a safe environment to swim.” Although overall visitor numbers are about the same as in years past, Betz said, but acknowledges it could be due to the scarcity of lifeguarded municipal pools and beaches this summer. “We’re finding that we’re turning away tons of people from all over the place,” she said, “That’s not normal activity.”

Staffing levels have only increased slightly with the new system, Betz said. The beach is missing out on revenue from out-of-town beach stickers this year, she said, and boat rental revenue is down. “People are being cautious,” she said.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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