Haverhill’s Plug Pond Open, but Swimming at ‘Own Risk’ Absent Lifeguards; Other Cooling Options

Lake Saltonstall, better known as Plug Pond, in Haverhill. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Extreme heat and humidity locally are being compounded at Haverhill’s Plug Pond by a statewide lifeguard shortage, but the city is offering multiple options for cooling off.

Human Services Director Vin Ouellette confirms the shortage means swimming is allowed, but at residents’ own risk. There are “park ambassadors” present and groups have the option of bringing their own lifeguards.

“A lot of camps will come with their own lifeguards,” Ouellette explained.

He also noted the state’s 2017 “Christian’s Law,” which requires camp and recreation groups to conduct swim tests. According to the law, this involves identifying and classifying non-swimmers and at-risk swimmers. It further reads, “Minors attending a municipal or recreational program or camp shall then be confined to swimming areas consistent with the limits of their swimming skills or to swimming areas requiring lesser skills than those for which they have been classified.”

“There has been an issue with lifeguards and we’ve seen that throughout the state,” Ouellette said.

Worcester, Framingham, Natick, beaches throughout Cape Cod and others have also complained about the shortage. The state offered sign-on bonuses of $1,000 to handle its pools. Some blame the lack of safeguard training programs during the pandemic or expiration of certification because of the passage of time.

Under the guidance of Haverhill Recreation Director Benjamin Delaware, Plug Pond has park ambassadors making sure rules are followed, such as no alcohol use; stay on top of trash, keep bathrooms tidy and more

Ouellette said, “We’re providing a safe, clean environment for people to come.” Plug Pond recreation area is open from noon to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, beginning Wednesday, the Haverhill Citizens Center is open for cooling off between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., at 10 Welcome St. In the event of a power outage or similar emergency after hours, residents may call 978-374-2388, ext. 3928, or the police business number at 978-373-1212 and arrangements will be made to enter the Citizens’ Center.

Water cannons will also be set up at Riverside Park off Lincoln Avenue; 12th Avenue Playground; Dr. Albert B. Consentino School back fields, 685 Washington St.; and Cashman Field playground, 187 Hilldale Ave.

Haverhill’s Swasey Field splash pad is also open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., at 59 Blaisdell St.

Comments are closed.