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By my best guess, about 200 men, woman, teens and children marched around Crystal Lake late Sunday afternoon, protesting city rules that prevent swimming in the great pond except in the designated area on designed days.

Debate over access to Crystal Lake has become an annual ritual in Newton.  But this is the first time I’m aware of any organized protest aimed at mobilizing public support. (Open Crystal Lake also has a website)

The protesters included a few of the usual curmudgeons who’ve never met a city policy that they like.  But mostly they seemed like nice, sincere folks, including parents with small children, who have not been persuaded by arguments that freelance swimming creates public safety, health and environmental risks. Either that, or they just want to swim and didn’t care what the consequences are. (I suspect the crowd included some of  both.)

I saw no counter-protesters, elected officials or police.

Anyway, they held signs, walked at various speeds (some in different directions) and sang a revised version of “This Land is Your Land”

“This lake is your lake, this lake is my lake, from Newton Centre to Newton Highlands….”

It may be a sign of how far we’ve come in Newton and how few genuine problems we have these days, that this one seems so divisive. But with warm weather ahead — and really no compromise that could possibly make all sides happy — this isn’t an issue that’s likely to go away.

Or am I wrong?  Can anyone think of any proposal that would allow more lake access while still addressing the public safety,  health and environmental concerns?


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