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Reservoir closure to last two weeks

Date: 7/25/2012

By Katelyn Gendron

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Bear Hole Reservoir will be a safer, cleaner place in another week thanks to an interdepartmental effort to prohibit illegal activities throughout the 1,200-acre area.

Mayor Gregory Neffinger told Reminder Publications that the two-week closure of the reservoir for maintenance and the installation of additional security measures to catch violators — illegal dumping, building camp fires and the use of all terrain vehicles (ATVs) — would cost "in the thousands of dollars." He called the price tag a drop in the municipal budget because the majority of the work would be completed by town employees during regular service hours and financed mostly through the Water Enterprise Fund.

When asked what additional measures the Police Department would take to increase security, Neffinger replied, "I probably don't want to advertise that." He would say, however, that the use of "dummy cameras" was a possibility.

The mayor noted that illegal dumping, which totaled up to three million tons of trash in spring, as well as the use of high-speed ATVs has caused the greatest amount of damage to the area's conservation lands. The vehicles, he said, are causing significant damage to the hiking and biking trails as well as endangering the safety of those in the area.

The two-week closure will allow for the installation of fences, cameras and greater access for police patrols, as well as "better management of vegetation in order to increase sightlines that are essential [to the] safety of the public and security of this natural resource," Neffinger said.

"[Bear Hole Reservoir] is a backup drinking water supply and we're allowed to take one million gallons of water a day out of it. It's a natural resource and something that can be enjoyed by the residents of West Springfield," he added.