Christiana Ulrich: Orange Dam noise, pollution ‘an erosion of quality of life’ 

  • People come from all over to swim in the Mill River in Leeds. Residents complain about the noise and garbage left behind.

Published: 7/13/2020 1:38:13 PM
Orange Dam noise, pollution ‘an erosion of quality of life’ 

I am a resident of Leeds and am responding to your recent article about the situation at the Mill River and Orange Dam that is owned by Chartpak. I would like to clarify 2 particular issues — the noise and the fact that the area has been turned into an unregulated daytime campground.

First, be assured that the residents in Leeds only call when the situation feels unbearable. It is understood that the river is a delightful place to take a dip in hot weather. However, when the noise of a boombox goes through closed windows and doors and/or when the shrieks and screams are heard through every room in the house, we call. People do back flips from the dam into the rock-filled river, and sometimes the ones who are afraid are loudly encouraged with screams of “jump! jump!” over and over again. At times, people are taunted to jump. It is difficult to determine sometimes whether the yelling and shouting is fun, fear, or anger. We hear all of them. At times, even the police dispatchers have asked residents to assess the nature of the screaming we hear from our houses! We hate to call the police. A number of us, however, have been met with hostile responses when we have politely requested that the fires be put out or the boomboxes turned down. The residents of Leeds who live around the river feel relief when it rains.

Second, the fact that many people are observed coming in groups of 15 or 20 at a time, wheeling large coolers, barbeques and many supplies including, sometimes, cases of beer, etc., means that the Mill River area is being used as a day camping area. A campground that has no sanitary facilities. No staff to prevent drinking and other substance abuse, illegal fires, unleashed dogs at times or to monitor overcrowding. There can be 40-100 people around the Orange Dam alone on a hot summer day. This starts at the beginning of June and ends only near the end of September. This is a quarter of each year! It is extremely stressful, unhealthy in so many ways, a degradation of the natural resources and an erosion of quality of life for the people who live around these “attractions.” 

If the City of Northampton and Chartpak want the Mill River area in Leeds to be a public swimming pool and campground, then please put staff and resources to regulate it.

Christiana Ulrich


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