High Temps, Lack of Rain Close Harry Wright Lake

Harry Wright beaches were ordered to close until conditions improve. (Photo from The Manchester Times archives)

MANCHESTER – Residents are certainly used to the geese that often plague their town lakes and make swimming in them a challenge. But last weekend, one of the lakes was closed for a different reason.

The Manchester Recreation Facebook page posted a status update on the morning of July 23 (a Sunday) that Harry Wright Lake would be closed for swimming until further notice.

“With the high temperatures and lack of rain the water testing results are above the limits allowed for swimming. Hopefully this rain will help raise the water level and get the water moving. Feel free to call the Recreation office at any time for the status of the lake,” explained the Recreation Department around 10 a.m.

According to Councilman Charles Frattini, Sr., the Ocean County Health Department did an inspection on July 18 and then closed the lake the day after. On the following Thursday it was checked again, and then checked every day after, but remained closed to residents.

(Photo from The Manchester Times archives)

“It’s not the geese that closed it, it was the lack of rain and the heat, no water flow and the fecal count came up very high,” said Frattini.

Manchester resident Gen Wilson Stavalo, who also shared her disappointment on the Manchester Recreation Facebook page after their update, took the opportunity to speak at a recent council meeting, saying she was upset that nothing was posted about the lake’s closure until Sunday. She had driven to the lake on Friday only to find out that it was not open.

“There were numerous people who went there without even knowing it was closed,” said Stavalo, adding what a hassle it is to pack up the family for the trip, then go home and unpack, just to be left with disappointed kids. In the Facebook status update, the Recreation Department advised residents to call the Recreation Office to find out if the lakes are open, which prompted her to question what the point of having social media is.

She said part of the problem is the parents, as she has seen some allow their children to use the bathroom in the lake on numerous occasions.

“Everyone blames the seagulls. It’s not the seagulls – it’s the human beings,” she said.

  Stavalo recommended adding some kind of filtration system to combat the issue. Council President Samuel Fusaro said they could look into the option of putting an aerator in, but added that it might not help that much.

Councilman Frattini said that Mayor Kenneth Palmer and Tracey Lynch, who runs the town’s Recreation Department, were going down to the lake to that day to inspect it themselves.

“Hopefully with the rain we received last night (on July 23) there’s a chance it could be opened within the next day or two – we hope it will be,” said Frattini.

Last summer, on August 22, the beaches were also closed. Back then, geese feces and low rain fall were named as culprits. The lake had also been closed on July 22 that summer.

Councilman Frattini said this week that a company called Geese Chasers LLC, which was contracted by the township, has been patrolling the lakes using dogs that chase the geese from away from water on the banks. He noted that geese, at least, are no longer the problem that they used to be.

The county maintains the results of its testing and any current advisories on its website, ochd.org/WaterReports.