Beaver Pond has been a hidden gem among locals and weekenders for a wide range of activities including ice skating, kayaking, fishing, cross country skiing, ice-fishing, bird watching, and painting. The only easy access to the pond is from the west end where the pond meets the intersection of the main road and side road. Earlier this year this access point with the adjacent parking lot, as well as the land underneath the water between the island and the parking, was purchased for a dollar by a nearby resident Erin Moran, as chronicled in this Woodstock Times article by Tad Wise.
First a single log with a friendly sign appeared. It said, “Please bear with us during this time. Efforts are underway to correct the erosion of the bank, while protecting the habitat and surrounding wildlife…Thank you, Neighbors of Yankeetown Pond. Questions? Call Steve Morris.”
I ran into Steve around this time and complimented him on the congenial tone of the sign. He told me it was written by Erin which made me laugh because that made much more sense. Erin had organized annual block parties for the last three years, bringing the pond residents together for winter fun, right on the piece of land that now belongs to her.
Then this sign was replaced by the regular private property sign (which was promptly ripped), then soon this was replaced by a permanent fence and sign that read “PRIVATE PROPERTY, POND ROAD RESIDENTS ONLY.”
Soon afterwards I received an email from Erin explaining how her desire to repair the eroding berm led to the purchase of the land. Tad’s article soon followed, elaborating on her concern for the health of the pond and wish to clean up the water lilies, “to restore the pond back to what it once was; a place that accommodated all wild life, anglers, paddlers and nature lovers.” This reassurance of her good will (whether one agrees with the cleaning of lilies or not) was further validated by a phone call from her in August, in which she explained this sign was to protect her from lawsuits and those who had enjoyed using this pond need not worry; they could park on the road and access the pond through the parking lot.
So, I was quite surprised when I heard that, on the second day of a rare ideal skating condition of black ice which happened last week, Erin confiscated the belongings left on the bank by a handful of skaters and left a note to call her. She took down their names and contact information but told them they could skate as long as they are respectful of the neighbors and park the cars on the other side of the road. Rob Saffer, one of the most ardent skaters in the area, texted this about the interaction.
But that evening, as five of us skated back in twilight after a blissful day of skating, we found a policeman and Erin waiting on the berm. They were concerned about the cars parked on the road, but the message was that we were not welcome there. For the record, it was not Erin who called the police; Colby Reynolds, a pond-side resident, asked Erin for permission to make the call after a skater he alerted to the private property sign did not respond to his warning and skated off.
The following morning, Erin notified us that no activities would be allowed on her portion of the pond, and no access would be permitted through the parking.
Since then, a group of us skaters have been accessing the pond through the DEP land, or skated at different lakes. The DEP access is manageable for skaters but very inconvenient for kayakers, as one must walk through steep, wooded land with unstable ground. The west end still remains to be the only easy access.