CATSKILL — Residents of Palenville asked the Catskill Town Board on Tuesday to reconsider fencing that would block public access to the swimming hole at Tannery Bridge.

The board decided in July 2020 to temporarily close and fence off public access to the swimming hole after it became overcrowded and overrun with trash due to the closing of public swimming pools amid the pandemic. But residents told the board this summer is different, asking the board to remove the fence and to pause plans for a permament barrier.

In July 2020, following public comments and concern due to parked cars blocking Route 23A, a lack of social distancing, excessive litter and people jumping into the water from the bridge, the board decided to temporarily shut down public access to the swimming hole. With the closure, the only access to the hole is from private property.

The board passed a resolution in May to get a quote for the price of permanent fencing after some Palenville residents advocated for its complete closure at the meeting.

Catskill Town Supervisor Dale Finch said at the meeting that residents had been emailing the board with photos showing the swimming hole’s current state.

Palenville resident Chris Burns submitted a petition containing 35 signatures he began circulating Tuesday morning asking the board to keep the hole open. He said the signatories did not know the board was considering a permanent closure.

Kevin Burns, a resident who helped start the petition, said he has been swimming in the hole for 50 years and he takes his grandchildren when they come to visit. He said he hasn’t seen the overcrowding or trash issues become as bad this summer.

“I’m asking the board for a moratorium on putting up the fence and closing down the hole until we can obtain more signatures in favor of people swimming in the hole,” he said.

Advocates for the permanent closure of the swimming hole, including resident in attendance Tuesday, Crane Davis, have not submitted a petition of support for its closure but said they are gathering signatures.

Town Councilman Jared Giordiano said the biggest concern is safety and liability. Greene County, which owns the bridge, is planning to install an 8-foot fence on the bridge by mid-August to prevent jumping into the water, Councilman Paul Vosburgh said.

Councilwoman Dawn Scannapieco said she supports keeping the swimming hole open and is interested in looking for solutions to keeping it clean, including assembling a group of volunteers to regularly pick up litter.

Finch said the board was not prepared to make a decision on removing the fence Tuesday evening, but decided to hold the next meeting in Palenville and to make the swimming hole an agenda item. He said the request to halt efforts to put up a permanent fence before getting further public comment was a “fair request.”

“It’s refreshing to hear both sides of the fence, so to speak,” Finch said. “Everybody’s got a different slant on it. And I think everybody has some valid concerns that the town board will have to take into consideration.”

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(1) comment

Bouvfan

A sham from our elected officials. None of the residents along the creek were notified or consulted. The whole "10 Foot permanent fence" is a politically polarizing ruse to try to get folks rilled up and protesting the fake "closing" of the swimming hole.

I would like a count of how many residents of Palenville were at this meeting. I heard it was 2 maybe 3. (If you don't include Doreen and Crane.)

If the Town of Catskill removes the No Trespassing signs we will need a water safety plan, water quality data, explicit approval form NYS DEC to utilize these waters for this purpose, lifeguards, ADA compliance, an evacuation plan, and all other legal requirements needed for this official bathing beach in a residential neighborhood.

In the mean time the No Trespassing signs and the tiny metal garden fence gives police the right to get people out of the swimming hole who are being abusive, come in large numbers, and are disrespectful. (This tiny fence is working great!) Plenty of small groups, young folks and children now use this asset.

For the past decade the increasing crowds the lack of leadership and the increase of opioids use under the bridge made it impossible for families to swim there. (My neighbor's Grandchildren have returned there after 5 years of swimming elsewhere. For 5 years the unacceptable level of drug use, violence, defecation, and defilement of public space has kept those who live here away from the stream. Our children are now safe.

Thank god last year the new Supervisor and Town Council correctly saw fit to protect Palenville from the battering of raging drunks and filth of folks far and near.

Palenville voted wisely and will continue to vote out those who will not protect this valuable asset.

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