Lake Iroquois Beach set to open

Cool temperatures delayed season’s start

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

This spring’s stubbornly cool, rainy weather kept Lake Iroquois Beach from opening as scheduled over the Memorial Day weekend. However, the beach is set to open this Saturday as the weather forecast brightens.

Williston Public Works Director Neil Boyden said last week that temperatures were recently measured in the water off the beach at about 48 degrees — much too cool for most swimmers. May’s persistent rain and below-average temperatures have kept the water from warming, he said.

The frigid waters prompted the Lake Iroquois Recreation Board of Commissioners to delay the opening of the beach a week beyond its traditional Memorial Day weekend start. The beach is owned by the towns of Hinesburg, Richmond, St. George and Williston. The Board of Commissioners includes a representative from each town.

“The beach has always been weather dependent,” said Boyden, who is Richmond’s representative on the Board of Commissioners. “It clearly wasn’t warm enough to open it yet this (Memorial Day) weekend.”

The weather has evidently dulled residents’ interest in swimming. Kathy Smardon, Williston’s assistant town clerk, said last week that the town had sold only 12 beach season passes — about half of what it would typically have sold before Memorial Day.

Forecasts for the upcoming weekend show sun and temperatures reaching into the 80s. Boyden expects interest in swimming to escalate accordingly.

The beach will be open on weekends only for the next few weeks, until the school year ends. It will then be open daily.

There will be two notable differences this year for Lake Iroquois beachgoers. One is a change in food vendor. The operators of Bridge Street Cafe in Richmond will run the concession booth.

Boyden said Bob and Helen Koch, who had managed the food concessions at the clubhouse behind the beach for roughly eight years, informed the Board of Commissioners about a month ago that they would be unable to provide the services again.

Boyden said the Recreation District advertised locally in search of a new vendor, but received no responses. So, Boyden approached the Bridge Street Cafe about taking the job. He said the business agreed, on short notice, to assume the vendor responsibilities.

“They ought to be really good,” Boyden said. “We’re lucky to get them.”

The beach area will also feature a new playground designed to accommodate more children. The previous playground, which was installed in 1991, had been restricted to children age 6 and older. The new playground will suitable for children ages 2-12, according to Boyden.

“We’re getting a lot younger clientele there than six years old and we decided we needed to get the equipment to serve them,” Boyden said earlier this year.

The new equipment, which cost approximately $6,200, will be funded with a state grant. Boyden said the playground should be installed around June 18, near the time school lets out.