Readers have begun to ask about the beach area at Wellesley’s Morses Pond. Kids have been bugging parents to let them hang out there. But is it open? Can people swim in the pond? Good questions.
We checked in with Recreation Department Director Matt Chin, who said, “all State and Town regulations regarding face covering and social distancing applies to anyone utilizing a Town park. As for swimming, there is signage at the Pond indicating that no lifeguards are on duty, and there are risks associated with swimming.”
Chin pointed out that the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) oversees and manages the pond and beach area, and that Rec manages programs there during the summer months. Because the gate at Turner Road is closed, the Morses Pond parking lot is not accessible.
However, people may park at the Turner Road area, as neighbors know only too well, and walk down to the pond. The trails system at the pond is open. The beach is also accessible, although the playground equipment is off-limits. The pond and beach area closes at sunset.
The NRC at this time has not put into place any additional rules related to the use of Morses Pond beyond those enacted at the state and town level. But the NRC has a meeting on Thursday, May 7, so don’t be surprised if this comes up.
When we swung by the pond on Wednesday at around 530pm, with temps feeling colder than the 51 showing on the iPhone, the park and trails were peopled but not busy. We saw a smattering of people with and without masks walking dogs with and without leashes. And yes, we saw one of those dreaded packs of unmasked teens huddled on bikes and skateboards.
Governor Charlie Baker’s order requiring masks or cloth face coverings in both indoor and outdoor public places went into effect May 6 and says that anybody over the age of 2 in a public place “whether indoor or outdoor and is unable or does not maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face.” There is an exception for people unable to wear masks due to medical conditions.
The Board of Health and the Board of Selectmen issued a supplemental order to Baker’s order, which includes specific guidelines for outdoor activities in Wellesley. Based on DPH Guidance, this local order gives parents discretion for children ages 2-5.
Although we’ve seen pictures of large groups of people at the Morses Pond Beach area, it may be an exercise in futility for town officials to regulate and enforce that kind of behavior, particularly as the weather warms up. Town officials’ appetite for further enhancing regulations is likely not there given the recent brouhaha when the Boards considered banning runners and cyclists from the Brook Path.
The State is expected to update its orders on May 14. At that time, certain rules may be relaxed, perhaps leading the town to follow suit. In the meantime, it seems likely that the nicer and sunnier the days get, the more people will gather at MOPO.