A Lake Carmel beach to close for summer

(Original publication: March 29, 2004)

LAKE CARMEL — An empty lifeguard chair stood watch from Lake Carmel's Beach 6 on a recent day, staring at the quiet waters near the foot of Barrett Hill Road.

Those waters, town and county officials said, are routinely the recipient of sediment and other pollutants washing down Barrett Hill Road across Route 52 in Kent. The accumulation of particles has formed a delta, similar to the deposit of soil at the mouth of a river, which is beginning to fill in the shallow area closest to the beach. Work to alleviate these storm-water problems will close the beach in the summer, forcing residents to seek relief elsewhere around the lake.

Cindy Davern, a 15-year Barrett Hill Road resident, said she was unaware of the project. Davern and her 4-year-old son, James, were walking Friday afternoon on the beach near the former Lake Carmel firehouse.

"In good weather, we're down here almost every day," she said, as James tried to float a stick in the water. "It'll be worthwhile if it works."

Storm water is water from rain or melting snow running off land, carrying contaminants into nearby water bodies and aquifers. The pollution can close beaches, clog lakes with weeds and dirty drinking-water supplies.

Under new federal rules put in place last year, almost every community in the area must develop storm-water management plans.

In 2002, Putnam County allocated $739,000 for the Kent project. The money will come from the $39 million, the original amount plus interest, the county received from New York City for signing the watershed agreement. The funds are meant to be used for water-quality improvement projects.

Construction is expected to start by early summer. Storm drains and pipes will be replaced on Barrett Hill and Clarkson roads. The roads now are covered with sand, grit and other particles that will eventually flow into Lake Carmel. Water from the lake winds up in the Middle Branch Reservoir, part of New York City's drinking water supply.

At the beach, the final collecting basin will be shifted south and will employ a centrifugal pump. A spinning action will pull the sediment from the water. The material will collect in a catch basin, which will periodically be cleaned out, and the cleansed water will be discharged into the lake.

"If you get a real heavy storm event, everything goes to the lake," said Edward Barnett, the county's watershed information coordinator.

Residents can choose from four other beaches, one near Lake Shore Drive on the lake's southwest corner and three on the water body's east side.

"I think it's been long overdue to have this taken care of," said Wanda Schweitzer, chairwoman of the Lake Carmel Park District Advisory Committee. "I think people will be OK with it as long as they know why it's being done."

Construction vehicles will occupy part of the small beach for most of the summer, as workers tear up the existing catch basin, install the new one and lay and hook up pipes for the new drains on the other side of Route 52. In November, the lake's water level will be lowered so the sediment forming the delta can be removed. The project, said Kent Supervisor William Tulipane, will also keep storm water from rushing through residents' yards as it cascades down Barrett Hill.

"It's better people just not be there (the beach) at all," said Tulipane, explaining the closure. "This will be a big improvement to the water quality of the lake."


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005