August 30, 2010
Many people consider the Labor Day weekend the unofficial end of the summer, but residents looking to cool off at any of the various Albemarle County lake beaches will have to wait until next year.
Disappointed swimmers were turned away over the weekend.
The beaches at Chris Greene Lake, Walnut Creek and Mint Springs Valley Park have been closed two weeks earlier than normal after budget money normally earmarked to fund them is gone because of cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department.
Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker says each department in the County was tasked to make a certain amount of reductions.
"The Parks and Rec Department, based upon usage and based upon the life guard situation, in recognizing the need to save money because revenues are down in the county, decided that it would be wise to close the last two weekends," said Supervisor Dennis Rooker.
In cost cutting moves, the department decided to cut lifeguard and cashier hours over the summer, as well as closing the beaches two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. In total, the decisions saved about $20,000.
Park officials say the drop off in attendance when school starts helped make the decision.
"Looking at the expense of keeping the lakes open the last two weekends and the revenue coming in, it was just one of the things that were kind of mismatched, so it was one of the things that was cut," said Amy Smith, supervisor of the recreations program.
For beach-goers, however, the decision to close early was an unfortunate end to a very hot summer.
"I saw the sign and the closed booth and thought 'what a shame' because this is a fun place to come. It's local, so families that can't go on a big vacation or pay for a hotel at the beach could come here and really enjoy it," said Kathy Erskine.
While the various Albemarle County beaches are closed for Labor Day weekend, the parks remain open. And officials say they will not charge admission to the park due to the beach closings.