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Town Looks to Step Up Security at Varney Park

The town has assigned a police officer to the area every day.

In light of an, the town is looking to make the area more secure.

Town Manager Paul Cohen told selectmen last night a police officer has been assigned to the area during the day and will remain there until Labor Day. Currently the beach is

Cohen said the officer lately has been there informing people that the beach is closed, while the lifeguards have all be re-assigned to Heart Pond.

"The beach may not be re-opened for another few days, because of the recent rain the Board of Health wanted to let it settle for a little bit before testing it again," said Cohen.

Cohen said there have been no incidents at the area since that altercation two weeks ago.

"Also we're looking at what it would cost to install security cameras, that might be an effective solution as well," he said. 

The deed for the land, which can be viewed as a PDF to the right, requires the land be left open to the public and therefore it cannot be residents only. The deed reads: "The land described in this deed is presented by me to the Town of Chelmsford with the express reservation and condition that it be forever kept open as and for a public playground or recreation center."

Phil stanway July 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I read the deed and here is a link to chapter 45 section 14 that it talks about. http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter45/Section14
Donna Reed July 31, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Hhmmmmmmmmmm......the way I read it then, it seems the answer might be simple. If you are a resident, then you may use the beach without paying an admission. If you are NOT a resident, then there should be an admission fee. Per HEAD. Something a little on the steep side, like $5.00 a person. If you go to the public ocean, and park on Gloucester's land, you pay something like $25.00 per day to park your car. As long as Chelmsford is ALLOWED to charge admission, and according to the link, it would seem that we are.....that would seem the simplest way to control use of the beach. AND it would help to pay the lifeguards. IF people from other cities and towns are using the beach, why should it be just Chelmsford taxpayers paying for the lifeguards?
Maria Karafelis July 31, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Krista, could you assist me please? I am reading the description of the lots and the size of the lots that were donated, but I am a visual kind of person. Can you get a copy of the map that shows me exactly what this description represents? Thank you for your help, and if you can't get that for me can you point me in the right direction? Thanks again, Maria
Phil stanway July 31, 2012 at 02:25 PM
You should be able to find them with the town GIS system http://host.appgeo.com/chelmsfordMA/ Its a great resource that not a lot of people use.
Krista Perry July 31, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Hi Maria, if Phil's link doesn't work for you, I would contact the town manager's office to point you in the right direction. I'm sure Tricia Dzuris could be of help to find a map.
Maria Karafelis July 31, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Thank you Krista and Phil
Bryan Gaudette July 31, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Donna, I would gladly volunteer to sit up there to check id's and collect fees.
Donna Reed July 31, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Bryan..as would I. However, I was thinking that if we charged non-residents..(as SO many cities and towns do) to use the beach, it would be a GREAT opportunity to offer a few more jobs to the young citizens of Chelmsford. I'm sure there's at least a FEW high school or college kids looking for summer work. If the deed says the use of the land MUST be "public", that DOESN'T restrict us from charging non-residents, (which would MORE than cover the salaries of lifeguards AND fee collectors) and frankly, I'm surprised that wasn't one of the first suggestions from those in "charge".....I think it would also be a great way for the town to earn some additional revenue....it seems like a "win-win" situation to me......
Jeff Apostolakes July 31, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Please just be aware that some are not so understanding when they are told they can not use the beach without a permit or fee. We need to make sure that everyone is safe. Sometimes those enforcing the rules do not have time to pick up a phone to call the police when they are not around, putting themselves in danger. What happens if those collecting fees witness an incident described above...Do they get involved or not. what if they are in the middle of it. it happens I know
Donna Reed August 01, 2012 at 01:47 AM
This is true Jeff. And most of us know how you have learned this valuable, important lesson. However, does that possibility become any greater simply because we would be charging non-residents an "entrance fee"? In addition, I think this is the type of "rule" that would need to be publicized WELL in advance......perhaps even giving the public as much as a full year's notice......Perhaps in the beginning of the summer of 2013, notices could be posted that effective in 2014, there will be a fee for all non-residents. And again, I think the fee needs to be high enough to "discourage" the type of people that are wielding baseball bats and other "weapons of destruction"..........(for lack of a better term). This still seems to me to be a viable solution, and if nothing else, is certainly worthy of consideration.....
Paul August 01, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Are you talking about parking fees? I'm not aware of these "SO many cities and towns," that charge to use a beach. A few out there like Forest lake state only residents are allowed, but it is not enforced. Why is it necessary to charge for every little pleasure in life especially something as simple as sitting at a beach to enjoy a sunny day near the water. Give it a break. There is a reason why the deed states, "public." It is meant for all to enjoy. Next you'll want to charge extra for non-US residents, then set up check points for illegal aliens, and finally it will end up on a pay system according to race and religion.
Oreo August 01, 2012 at 07:38 AM
Hey Paul, you have a good idea there!
Phil stanway August 01, 2012 at 09:00 AM
Donna I think the town solution of adding an officer during the day in the summer is working. (and we should give it some time). People have asked for this for years and now we have one some still want Id check. Seems to be more about "who" can use the public park than saftey. A lot of the same issues are from local kids as I know first hand cleaning up messes all over town. An officer on site during the summer is our best and most professional solution. I have seen the change first hand and I want to thank CPD for doing a great job andl Town Hall for seeing despite the cost public saftey comes first. They are also looking at monitoring the site with cameras and that would give 24 hour "eyes". Lets see how this works out and then decode where to move on.
Donna Reed August 01, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Phil..Yes, your right. There is no harm in giving this options time to consider how they will work. I was only offering a suggestion as it seems as though people are concerned about other's safety. And if people are being attacked with baseball bats, it would seem their concerns are valid. And Paul, no I wasnt' referring to parking fees. I don't think you can park much more than15 cars there. I mentioned, rather specifically, a per person fee. And as I also mentioned, in order to use the ocean, which is also public and belongs to all of us, you MUST pay to park your car in Gloucester, Or Hampton, or anywhere else. And who on earth, besides YOU, made any mention of race, creed, non US residents or anything ELSE ? Rif-Raf comes in all colors, shapes, sizes, genders and creeds. And, if you are so unaware of these cities and towns that charge to use their lakes, maybe you need to get out more often. There isn't a town at the cape that DOESN"T charge non-residents of their towns to use their lakes OR the PUBLICLY OWNED ocean. Are you sure you're REAL name isn't JEFF?????
Donna Reed August 01, 2012 at 01:28 PM
and Paul...for the record, the last time I checked, "PUBLIC" doesn't necessarily mean FREE. If you are aware of anything different, perhaps you could enlighten us....
Jeff Apostolakes August 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Donna, you are correct..Plenty of notice, police presence. My point is that whoever is monitoring stickers, collecting fees etc needs to be aware that some don't take no quite so quietly. For safety reasons, whoever is monitoring I would suggest a quick class/ meeting etc on rules of engagement / disengagement. There will always be a small faction of those trying to bend the rules. Even though Police presence is there during certain times it's best to be prepared at all times
Donna Reed August 01, 2012 at 01:49 PM
You're absolutley correct Jeff A. I myself don't use the park anymore, now that my son is grown, so until I read this Patch story, I wasn't aware that they were having "issues" there....but certainly, if we were going to leave our youngesters there to collect fees, lifeguard, etc. we would want to make sure they have the proper training along with the understanding that any who might "resist" their efforts to collect fees, should simply be allowed entrance, and let the "proper" authorities deal with it. We certainly would not be expecting our young kids to become "guards"......And while the use of cameras might help, IF there was an altercation, or an issue occuring, I'm not sure that help could arrive in time to assist, unless these cameras are also going to be monitored 24/7,and I'm thinking that might be rather cost prohibitive. Would you not agree?
Shari August 09, 2012 at 04:34 PM
A lot of towns charge for use of the beach and lakes. Westford, Acton, Sudbury, Concord, Bedbord.
leanne mathews August 09, 2012 at 05:15 PM
i feel that if they are not from chelmsford they should not be allowed to use this beach. It is just getting ruined by the ones who dont belong and having a "cookout" there. if chelmfsord is going allow out of town people use it (unless they are with a chelms resident) they a charge should be applied. we cant use simands park in burlington (water area) unless you get a pass from a burlington resident and its $8 for that small pool. chelm has a lake and play ground.
Donna Reed August 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Leanne... I dont' see any harm in letting the public use the beach....I see no reason why we would have to stop the little ones from playing in the water, whether they live in town or not.......the PROBLEMS are arising from people who are going to the park for reasons other than enjoyment. People attacking others with baseball bats ( or anything ELSE) is NOT acceptable. My thought is, if we charge a fee, you will eliminate the "rif-raf", so that adults and small children will be able to use the beach and surrounding area without fear. To me, that's what Varney Park SHOULD be...a place for kids to play.......in the water, and out.....
Phil stanway August 09, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Leanne, No cooking is allowed on either of the beaches by anyone. Varney has added new large signs as you enter to remind people of this. If sometrys to use any type of open flame they are asked to leave. BTW No fires or cooking fires are permitted on any Conservation or Town land without a permit from CFD.
Bryan Gaudette August 09, 2012 at 08:35 PM
The problem at Varney is not during the day. It is after 6pm. Even before the police were there, it is calm there. After 6pm, that's when there needs to be a police presents.
Donna Reed August 09, 2012 at 08:52 PM
If that's the case Bryan...charging admission won't help..(other than the financial benefits, ie: paying for lifeguards, etc.) nor will it fix things. If the problems arise after 6 PM, it is also highly unlikely that the police presence will be constant...as this would be rather cost-prohibitive. Unless they are going to patrol that area every half hour, which is also unlikely, MAYBE it would be possible to have some kind of specially made gate built to cordon the area off? Not sure THAT would be feasible either.....just trying to come up with some solutions to keep people in that area safe, AND to help alleviate any "intrusions" this activity must cause the residents who live in the immediate area surrounding the park.......
Jeff Apostolakes August 09, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Can someone define rif - raf and how will charging a fee reduce the " rif-raf" . If not a bat then a fist or a boot of which fees will not eliminate Presence of an officer , lighting, security measures , community patrolling calling CPD work best.
Donna Reed August 09, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I would define rif-raf ( in this case at least) as anybody carrying weapns, or items that might be defined as weapons. As I THOUGHT these were the type of people that started the whole subject matter in the first place..............I guess I could have used the word "hoodlums"........
Donna Reed August 09, 2012 at 09:52 PM
And let us not forget Jeff...we live in a town where people CONTINUOUSLY vote down Libraries, new schools, new police and fire stations and other vital elements and amenities for comfortable living, because they don't want to see their taxes increase.... And yes, maybe Police presence WOULD be the answer..just not sure the majority of taxpayers would want to see their tax dollars spent that way.....
Jeff Apostolakes August 10, 2012 at 02:15 AM
never compromise safety. My point is that fees / stickers will not have an effect on the behavior of people regarding altercations....Only a visible presence or security of some type will. On the other hand fees/ stickers may reduce the volume because some may not be able to afford it.....As the Steward at Heart Pond and one who visited when fees were in place I have first hand experienced all of what we are talking about which begs the question..... If you do it at one town beach do you do it at both.....I don't want to see a "share Shift of burden" from one beach to another to get around the payment of a fee at one beach .

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