After months of debate about swimming at Crystal Lake and last week’s rally to open up the pond to more swimmers, Newton’s Parks and Recreation Commission will decide Monday whether to hold a public hearing on the issue.
The commission has looked into levying a fine against people who are caught swimming in Crystal Lake outside of the designated swim times and marked areas. But the commission has also been studying a swim-at-your-own-risk proposal brought forward by some local residents.
Aldermen, police and residents are looking for the parks and recreation to offer some guidance on Crystal Lake, said Commission Chairman Arthur Magni.
If the commission decides against a public hearing Monday, it will essentially be squashing the swim-at-your-own-risk proposal, Magni said.
Some commissioners believe that the public safety concerns of swimming in undesignated areas outweighs the outcry from some Newton residents who want access to the water, Magni said.
Crystal Lake, near Newton Centre, has turned into a popular spot for swimmers in the summer. Last year, police increased patrols of the area to discourage the illegal swimming.
Swimming is allowed at certain times by the Crystal Lake bathhouse, which is maintained and run by the Newton Parks and Recreation Department and is protected by lifeguards.
But some residents have proposed allowing swimmers in other parts of Crystal Lake at their own risk.
The bathhouse area is mostly for families and young children and doesn’t meet the needs of more athletic swimmers in Newton, said Deborah Fogel, who lives across the lake and helped organize a walk around Crystal Lake that drew about 200 open swim supporters last Sunday.
Homeowners who live next to the lake are also allowed to swim there, Fogel said.
The commission should test out swimming-at-your-own-risk for a year with some controls, such as only allowing swimming during daylight hours and requiring children under 16 years old to be accompanied by an adult, Fogel said.
The parks and recreation commission will meet on Monday at 7 p.m. at Newton City Hall.
Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.