Residents petition to reopen beach

BROADALBIN — Wendy Rowback and a committee of town residents are planning to present the town board with a petition tonight supporting the reopening of the former Broadalbin Town Beach.

Rowback said she and a group of other town residents have formed “a so-called Broadalbin Beach Committee” to advocate for the town to begin discussions with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to reopen the beach.

“A bunch of us want our beach back,” Rowback said.

The DEC took control of the former town beach in 2011. Prior to that the town operated the beach, which is adjacent to a state-owned and operated boat launch. Prior to 2011, the town of Broadalbin operated the beach with a staff of lifeguards during the summer.

A failed referendum in 2015 asked voters to approve the town spending money to resume operating the state-owned beach.

Town officials have estimated the beach once generated $6,000 to $8,000 in revenue, but cost the town almost $25,000 annually to operate.

Rowback said she believes the 2015 referendum was voted down because it was on “the back of the ballot.”

“Not many people knew about it. If they knew about it, they would have voted for it,” she said. “The actual petition says ‘Shall the Town of Broadalbin initiate discussions with the Department of Environmental Conservation, DEC, to explore renewing operation of a beach adjacent to the DEC boat launch in said town.’ This is to get it on the ballot in November.”

Without a crew of lifeguards staffing the beach, swimming is prohibited, although people regularly do it. There is also no one to clean up the debris from people using the beach.

“It’s getting dangerous to even go there now,” Rowback said. “There’s been debris. There’s been people cleaning it up.”

Rowback said she has many fond memories of going to the Broadalbin Town Beach and she and the other members of her committee have been dismayed by its current conditions.

“I grew up going to that beach. I brought my kids to that beach. My grandchild started going to that beach, but now can’t,” she said. “We haven’t gone since they’ve told people there is no swimming. I do realize people are there swimming, but technically it is not legal to swim there. The Broadalbin Youth Commission used to take kids there, I don’t know if they go to Amsterdam or Mayfield now or what.”

Broadalbin Supervisor Tom Christopher did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

The Broadalbin Town Board is set to meet tonight at 6:30 p.m.