EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 18, 2013

Pomps Pond closed to non-residents, in apparent violation of federal law

ANDOVER — Town officials have closed Pomp’s Pond to non-residents, saying that overcrowding of the swim area has created a safety problem. But closing the pond to out-of-towners may have created a legal problem as well.

Starting yesterday, people arriving in their cars at the guard shack were asked if they were Andover residents. If not, they were being turned away at the gate.

People seemed to comply willingly with the order, reinforced with a large, new sign at the top of the driveway leading to the swim area saying ‘Andover Residents Only.’ But that didn’t mean visitors were happy about it.

“I think it was overcrowded with the wrong kind of people,” said Kyle Sweeney, 27, of Lawrence, one of many people turned away at the gate yesterday. “I don’t drive a Benz.”

For years, the pond has been open to both residents and non-residents alike seeking relief from the summer heat. Apparently, there’s a reason it was open to everyone: It has to be.

In 1978, the state funneled a $45,000 federal grant to the town to help pay for construction of the bathhouse, the cinderblock structure located between the parking lot and the beach. The grant, which paid for half of the $90,000 project, came from a federal program that requires equal access for residents and non-residents alike.

Further, the Board of Selectmen were not consulted in the decision to close the pond, although their own policy manual states that non-residents are allowed at the pond as long as they pay a fee.

Town Attorney Tom Urbelis did not return a phone call yesterday.

But such legalities didn’t matter much to Sweeney and his friend Beatrice Sanchez, 21, and Sweeney’s two boys, Angel, 5, and Kyle, 3. They had picked up the kids at daycare after work and were hoping to cool off at Pomps Pond as the temperature hovered around 90 degrees.

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