For Emily Grimes of Schenectady, celebrating her 7th birthday became that much sweeter with the reopening of the Collins Lake beach. Her parents had planned her birthday party before the announcement came last week that the beach would be open for the rest of the season, which came as an added bonus for the 7-year-old, whose friends and family gathered around a picnic table Sunday afternoon.
We are just so happy that the lake is clean and that the kids can have a place to swim during these hot days, said Grimes' grandmother, Shirley Thompson, also of Schenectady.
"The kids have waited for this for almost two summers. It's just so nice to have it back," said Thompson.
Scotia Park Superintendent Jim Marx had speculated just a few weeks ago that, with the lake failing bacteria level tests, it looked doubtful that the water would be safe for swimming anytime this summer.
The lake was closed off to swimmers last July when it started failing tests to determine safe bacteria levels. The poor results were from variety of possible reasons, according to village mayor Michael McLaughlin, including an abundance of overgrown weeds, an old nearby septic system and the growing population of Canada geese who have called the lake home for the past several years.
A debate was sparked early this spring when the village announced they would euthanize the geese in an effort to deal with the overpopulation. A volunteer group called "Save the Geese" has been patrolling the lake and chasing the geese in an effort to keep them out of the water using nonlethal methods. The volunteers' efforts have reduced the numbers from more than 300 to about 30, according to group spokesman David Goldschmidt.
"We're still on the water, focusing our efforts more at the lake again. We are also happy to hear that Mayor McLaughlin is recognizing our achievements as a group, in particular the success we have had with keeping down the numbers of geese," said Goldschmidt.