Bathing conditions at Willett Pond and Hawes Brook Pool came in for a thorough going over at the first fall meeting of the Chamber of Commerce last night when reports were made by members of the Chamber’s Town Affairs Committee after an extensive study of Norwood’s two swimming areas.
Commenting upon the findings of the committee, Vice President Fred Howard termed conditions at both places as “disgraceful” stating that it had been a miracle that the town has escaped an epidemic of some sort of disease in the past few years.
On the Willett Pond situation. Thomas Riley stated that after conferring with George F. Willett, trustee of the Norwood Housing Trust and Norwood Civic Association, owners of the beach property, as well as with town officials, and getting nowhere, he talked with state health authorities, who informed him that color tests showed the water in Willett Pond better than much drinking water and that bacteriological tests met all requirements for bathing. However, there was a strong objection to the lack of shore facilities and police protection, and it was stated that if something were not done, the beach must be closed to bathing.
From Mr. Willett, Riley learned that a bathhouse could not be built and suitable toilet facilities installed so long as the property was assessed; that he would not sell the land, and that if the property were taken by eminent domain, the plans of Westover would be destroyed. From the assessors, he learned that they consider the beach property no different than any other, and must be assessed and that no reason was seen for an abatement.
From the Selectmen, he learned that it would be a physical impossibility to provide police protection 24 hours a day and that the town cannot build a bathhouse because it does not own the land. Riley related that he countered with a number of installées where private property has been entered by the town to provide such things as sewerage, water and the like; that recreation supervisors were provided by the town for duty on private property, and that in the summer lifeguards paid by the town are on duty at Willett Pond Beach. Riley was informed by the Board that these were public services.
Riley saw no reason why the town could not lease enough of the property to build a bathhouse and install toilet facilities, later turning them over to the owner for a token sum of $1.
DISGRACE TO TOWN
“It is a shame to be spending $15,000 on recreation, and have the most beautiful spot we have in the condition that it is,” he commented. “As many as 500 people use the beach on a hot summer day, yet there are no toilet facilities. The conditions around the pond are a disgrace to the town.”
Riley also suggested that telephone service be installed on the pond for use in emergencies.
He concluded with the opinion that “If we spent $2000, it would be one of the best investments the town could ever make . . . Where there’s a will, there s a way.”
Joseph Traylor, reporting on the Hawes Brook situation, painted an equally distasteful picture of bathing conditions there. Reviewing the history of the pool since August, 1944 when it was first closed because of pollution, to the time it was ordered reopened by town officials and subsequently filled with [own water and chlorinated. Traylor pointed out that because of the dirt bottom, the water becomes extremely muddy at times, especially when there are 400 persons using the pool at one time, and because the bottom is below the level of the brook, the pool is difficult to drain. The bath house, he said, located where it is at some distance from the pool, makes for difficult supervision. The windows, he stated, are boarded up. preventing ventilation, except through the door.
He suggested that town water continue to be used for the pool and that the water be chlorinated; that the pool be raised to permit proper drainage; that the bottom be paved, and that the bathhouse be moved nearer the pool so that bathers could be processed through it. providing showers and better supervision. The plan would follow the pattern of the Blackburn Memorial Pool in Walpole, he said.
Traylor also suggested that the pool be used for skating in the wintertime.
Gordon Woodberry, referring to those people who must turn to Willett Pond or Hawes Brook as the only places where bathing may be enjoyed during the summer months, expressed the hope that the committee would see the projects as outlined through to a successful conclusion.
Mr. Howard told how the Town Affairs Committee had met in a body at the Hawes pool to inspect the site after it was reopened this year. He stated that health authorities agree that conditions there have not improved.
While some members urged immediate action by the Chamber in an effort to remedy the conditions, it was pointed out by William Hyland, chairman of the Town Affairs Committee, that the suggestions contained in the committee reports were suggestions only, and he expressed the belief that if there were some good in them, town officials would pick them up and carry them along.
It was agreed that action would be delayed, pending a further discussion of the matter.
Mr. Hyland, reporting that the Town Affairs Committee has been at work since August mapping plans for the season, said that there are many problems to be considered this year, although the Willett Pond and Hawes pool matters were the most urgent. Others, he said, included a study of the town charter, Chapter 211, representative town meeting, advisability of linking with the Metropolitan Water system, the Nahatan Street Extension, automobile parking, a connecting road for South Norwood, garbage and rubbish disposal, and the fire station problem.
School Superintendent Lincoln D. Lynch suggested that the Chamber might well Idok into the matter of cleaning the waters of the Neponset River. He compared the local waterway to the Charles and Sudbury rivers where fishing, boating, and bathing are enjoyed. It was brought out by President Harry Korslund that the State has formulated plans for the beautification of the Neponset River.