GROTON -- There may have been newly fallen snow on the ground that morning, but when members of the Sargisson Beach Committee met on April 16, it did nothing to slow plans to have the little stretch of sand ready for public use when warm weather finally arrives to stay.
Plans proceeded apace to spruce up Sargisson Beach for the coming season with only minor cleanup duties needed for which committee members were seeking volunteers to help.
In addition, with remaining funds from a $15,000 appropriation made in 2013, committee members hoped to spend up to $500 on new signs informing visitors to the beach what is and is not allowed at the site. Signs are expected to be erected at the entrance to the beach area, the parking lot and on the beach itself.
This year, boat docks that had been present in past years will return as well as a park ranger hired part-time to patrol the area.
Due to budget restraints, lifeguards will not be available again this year so that anyone using the beach will do so at their own risk.
Plans to make the opening of the beach for public use official had to be put on hold. A request for $76,000 from the town to fund lifeguards and pay for swimming and boating lessons from the Lowell YMCA as in past years was dropped from the town's fiscal 2015 budget due to unexpected costs involving the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.
But it was not all bad news for the committee as a request from the Community Preservation Committee for $170,500 to be paid in three installments and earmarked for erosion-control efforts at the beach remains on the list of appropriations to be considered by spring Town Meeting.
Most of the money would be used to restore a retaining wall at the beach.
Open for the last few years but not officially supervised, Sargisson Beach has been prey to the elements as rain washing down from the roadway turned trails and stairways into streams, leaving dry washes filled with stones after drying up.
Some of those problems have been addressed but others remain.
The Sargisson Beach Committee was established by the Board of Selectmen in September of 2013 and charged with exploring ways it could take over maintenance of the beach with the aim of having it officially reopened to the public.
With an unofficial target date of Memorial Day for the beach opening, committee members hoped to complete spring cleaning before then. Work will include raking leaves, removal of brush and fallen branches, and removal of tree trunks cut down earlier in the season.
Located on the Knops Pond portion of Lost Lake, the water surrounding Sargisson Beach had been invaded by nonnative weeds. But an effort to rid Lost Lake of the intrusive plants using chemicals has been successful, further opening up the pond for public use.
As far as I can tell the weeds are gone everywhere in Lost Lake and Knops Pond," confirmed Art Prest, president of the Groton Lakes Association. "The water is crystal clear and you can see the bottom of the lake. There shouldn't be any weeds in the water at Sargisson Beach.
"We are delighted with the success of the weed treatment in 2013," continued Prest. "I must thank the residents of Groton for their support of our efforts to eliminate the non-native invasive weeds that were destroying Lost Lake and Knops Pond and their use for recreational activities."