By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – In addition to extra staff time this spring at the village office to process absentee ballots, Village Administrator Paul Evert said issuing 1,731 households 8,110 wristbands to swim at Duck Creek Quarry Park has also been time-consuming.
Evert informed the Howard village board Monday, July 27, the front-office staff went from the “largest single absentee ballot election to wristbands.”
“It’s been a tremendous amount of traffic at the front desk,” he said.
Evert said the only way village households may get the free wristbands for their families and guests is to pick them up at the village office.
The quarry, a popular summertime outdoor swimming area, was closed until June 18 over concern about the spread of COVID-19 from possible overcrowding with other nearby swimming areas also being closed this summer.
The board voted 5-4 last month to reopen the quarry, where gates and additional signage were installed with only village residents and their guests allowed this year with wristbands obtained weekdays from village hall to use the beach daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
A photo I.D. or other proof of Howard residency is required for obtaining a wristband, which all beach users over the age of 5, including swimmers, floaters, sunbathers and picnickers, must have to enter the quarry’s beach area.
Evert said there has been “a little bit of horseplay” with some people claiming to live places in the village where they no longer reside to try to get wristbands.
“We have people’s water records, so if they come in and give us a water bill from 12 months ago, we’ll look at it and see that they’re probably two owners ago to register,” he said. “We’ve had a little bit of that, but otherwise… most people have the current form of ID.”
Given the amount of time village staff are spending this year to handle absentee ballots and wristbands, Evert said, “I think they’ll be thrilled when the presidential election is over and it freezes outside.”
“It would have been better if we didn’t have a big spring election (with the pandemic resulting in more absentee ballots requests being handled), trust me,” he said.
Public Safety Director Ed Janke said no complaints were reported at the quarry the past two weeks.
“This hot weather has actually filled the parking lot, and it seems that everybody who wants to swim there is swimming,” he said. “We had not a single complaint in two weeks that I’m aware of… We have not had any parking issues this year.”
Janke and other village officials have reported receiving feedback from Howard residents who prefer having the quarry’s swimming area open only to them and their guests.
Except for swimming, the remainder of the park and trail are open to all visitors and for all uses during normal park hours.
Fishing is allowed throughout the park. Individuals with non-motorized boats, paddleboards, etc., are being asked to launch from the dock, and dog swimming also is designated in that area. Those activities are not allowed on or from the swimming beach.