MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The first day of summer officially arrived over the weekend and it brought with it plenty of warm and humid weather. Some might even call it “beach weather.”
And just in time, the state is allowing public beaches to open, as long they follow the guidelines. Sycamore Beach at Sycamore Park in Mahopac was one of those beaches that opened for business on Saturday and though the attendance numbers were modest, Agathi Agnello said it was just the thing her kids needed to break the quarantine tedium.
“It’s something different. We’re all trying to find something new for the boys,” said Agnello, who brought her twin 7-year-old sons, Thomas and Christian, to get some sun and surf.
The Carmel Recreation and Parks Department will make sure the state and county guidelines for beachgoing in the pandemic are followed.
“Just being able to open something and go back to something normal is good and I’m glad residents can use the beach this summer,” said Nina Kallmeyer, senior recreation leader.
In order to practice social distancing and to keep the community safe, Sycamore Beach is operating at 50 percent capacity. The beach is following other safety protocols in compliance with the Putnam County Department of Health, such as keeping families and individuals 10 feet apart while sitting on the beach. Markers have been set along the beach to help.
The beach is operating on normal summer hours but closes between 2-2:30 p.m. every day to sanitize benches, tables and bathrooms. In addition, beachgoers are required to wear face masks when interacting with other people and to stay 6 feet apart.
The lifeguards at Sycamore Beach were also tasked with enforcing the new protocols, such as making sure swimmers stay 6 feet apart from each other in the water. Lifeguards are also responsible for sanitizing their own workstations and equipment.
“We’re all learning, and rules will be changing frequently,” said head lifeguard Clare Winchell.
Winchell, who is also a certified COVID-19 contract tracer for the county Department of Health, said lifeguards are keeping a COVID-19 contact log, which records the names of any individuals who lifeguards come in contact with if they need to help them in the water.
Kallmeyer said the beach staff anticipates the crowds at Sycamore Beach to increase as summer progresses—more beach passes have been issued this year than in recent years.
“I’m glad we can offer something for the public this summer,” Kallmeyer said. “I know people have been sad [because of all the] things that have been cancelled.”
The playground at Sycamore Park is also open. Children who go on the playground are advised to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene.
All residents are briefed on social distancing guidelines and new protocols before they enter the beach.