BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Area residents will have access to the Pollmiller Beach at Pollmiller Park at no charge this year.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Conservation Board, the board discussed Pollmiller Park operations going forward in the hopeful wake of the coronavirus and COVID-19 illness.
The board approved opening the beach from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and moving from five days a week to seven days a week starting Friday at the latest, according to Lee County Conservation Director Nathan Unsworth.
Several residents encouraged the Lee County Conservation District to open the Pollmiller Park beach as the state continues to reopen sectors of the state’s economy on a limited basis.
Ashley Grinnell said her family has camped at Pollmiller the last couple years every weekend.
“The beach is something we utilize every day especially during the hot weather. I think just having it at the discretion of the parent and knowing social distancing is important,” Grinnell said.
Several other residents on the teleconference meeting said they too favored having the beach open under the discretion of parents.
Unsworth said it’s important to look at the Pollmiller Park operations for a standpoint of public safety and not just financially.
The district would normally charge $1 per person to use the beach and would average 100 to 150 people per day, with heavy usage at 250 people.
Obviously, we have some people ready to use our beach and we want to provide that, but I’m trying to strike a balance here with facilitating usage while trying to keep people comfortable with guidelines.
Board member Liza Alton said the safety of staff and patrons has to be at the forefront of the decision to open.
“Anytime we have someone taking cash or counting people we put them at risk. I think we should just open with no admission, leave it to the discretion of the users and post guidelines for safety,” she said.
“I don’t think we should sell snacks to help keep things sanitized. We don’t rent kayaks, canoes or life jackets at this time. It would be a lot of work to keep those things clean.”
Unsworth said he wasn’t sure what the best answer is, but said everyone knows this year that things are going to be different.
Board member Kritter Hayes, said the people that have commenting have all been practicing social distancing and safety measures for several months.
“If people get too close, they start to get away from each other. If it’s easier to not charge money and better for personal safety, let’s go that way and open it up. I think it’s a great thing for everybody,” Hayes said.