A new year, a new Morses Pond beach plan. Wellesley’s Recreation Department has had to be creative over the past couple of years during the pandemic, putting into place a reservation system and other protocols to keep the beach safe and manageable, and this year it’s got another new plan in light of current public health conditions.
The town’s Recreation Commission held several public meetings to gather input from the public on how the beach might be run this season.
The official beach opening will start on June 6 with open swim, no lifeguards, and no docks. The yellow gate at Turner Road will be monitored by Recreation staff, and only residents will be allowed to park in the lot (non-residents can walk, run, or bike in).
When Wellesley Public Schools let out in mid-June, and trained lifeguards become available, the beach will convert to member use with lifeguards on duty. Last year the beach operated without lifeguards. This year the Rec Department has about a dozen lifeguards signed on—it’s been a challenge, because some past Morses Pond lifeguards have moved on to jobs at pools, while a pipeline of new lifeguards has been blocked by a lack of courses being available during the pandemic. Recreation Department Director Matt Chin referred to the lifeguard shortage as “a nationwide issue,” when he briefed us on the Morses Pond plan.
But the Rec Department has a plan in place to train lifeguards and operate safely with the ones it has, and laid those plans out during the May 5 Recreation Commission meeting (starting at about 20 minutes into the Wellesley Media recording). The department even got another application from a potential lifeguard during that meeting.
The price for a membership is going up this season, as is the daily rate for residents (non-residents can secure a season pass, but not daily passes). Family passes for residents will be $250 (up from $170 in 2019) and $375 for non-residents, with individual adult passes for residents at $125 and individual child/senior passes at $60. Residents can also pay $10 per person for a daily entry. Look for membership registration information soon on the Wellesley Rec site (there are no plans for a discount super sale this time around).
The season is slated to end Aug. 21, as lifeguards will be heading back to school, etc. around then. The beach will return to the open swim model then, with park rangers monitoring the area until at least through Labor Day weekend.
The Recreation Commission has had a variety of beach operation models to review over the past few years, and one goal this year is to try to run the beach at least around a break-even level. In years before the pandemic it would sometimes run at a $30K-$50K loss, with other programs throughout the year making up the difference.