It was a quiet afternoon Monday on Plug Pond as temperatures rose to just over 80 degrees. About a dozen children were swimming as parents watched from the shore.
“It’s been nice out today. We rode our bikes here,” said Andrea Perreault of Haverhill. She brought her 10-year-old son Oliver to the beach. “Anything to keep him off the computer.”
Oliver was playing catch in the water with his friend, while Andrea watched from shore. She was disappointed about the beach closing because of bacteria levels for a few days over the Fourth of July holiday. She noted that the swimming area Monday afternoon was less busy than usual because the park had just reopened.
“It’s a blessing on a beautiful day,” she said. “You can’t live in fear, and if it wasn’t safe the mayor wouldn’t have opened it” back up.
The rest of this week looked to have good swimming weather as well.
On Wednesday of last week, the pond was closed to swimmers after a water test the previous day showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria, said Shawn Regan, a spokesman for Mayor James Fiorentini. The bacteria level prompted city officials to close the park through last Saturday afternoon, taking away a place where residents could have escaped the 90-degree heat over the July 4 holiday.
“Usually this happens after big rainstorms,” Regan said after the unsafe bacteria level was detected. “We had a lot of rain over the (previous) weekend, which washed all the bacteria from the roads into the pond.”
Jeremy Greene of Haverhill brought his 5-year-old son Oliver to the pond early Monday afternoon.
“There were three people swimming when we got here,” Greene said.
Greene and his family are regular Plug Pond visitors who hold a season pass to the beach. Greene said he likes the quiet family-oriented beach, and his son enjoys building sandcastles.
“I encourage everyone to come here. It seems clean to me,” Greene said. He said they would have been there every day over the long weekend if it wasn't for the temporary closing.
The beach, open to Haverhill residents only, is used by many children and parents who walk to the pond and use it to escape the heat. It is in operation seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until the last week of August. Lifeguards are on duty during operating hours.
The city tests the water for bacteria at least once a week.