Greenbrier faithful miss the main attraction

June 27, 1999

Greenbrier LakeBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

GREENBRIER - Adam Gibson of Frederick expected to go swimming at Greenbrier Lake Sunday, but he had to go fishing there instead.

Swimming, the lake's biggest draw, is presently prohibited due to extremely low water levels, something his family didn't realize when they drove to the lake.

"I was pretty disappointed," Gibson said. The fish weren't even biting. "It's not going well."

With written and verbal warnings, employees at Greenbrier Start Park are alerting park users that the lake is closed for swimming due to the low water. They cut admission prices and are reminding visitors swimming is still offered at nearby Cunningham Falls State Park, near Thurmont, Md.


"I was going to go to Cunningham but then said, what the heck, and stayed here," Gibson said.

Ed Martin of Baltimore took a similar attitude.

He and some friends brought their children to the park, planning to do some swimming, he said. Instead they ended up just having a large cook-out.

"The kids were kind of disappointed," he said.

Dan Daez of Arlington, Va., also did not know when he brought his family to the lake that swimming wasn't allowed. He has been coming for more than 10 years, he said.

"It is a great place for us," he said, adding one of the main reasons they like it is that they can swim there.

Motioning toward the lake, which was empty except for two boats, he said, "Maybe in a few months?"

But lifeguard David Honigs of Hagerstown said he does not expect the lake to reopen for swimming this summer.

The water level at the 50-acre, man-made lake is 10 feet lower than normal and it may go down ever farther later this summer, he said. The lower water level sparks safety concerns, he said.

"Most people are pretty understanding," said lifeguard Amy Wagner. Once they explain the problem and that Cunningham is an alternative, the anger dissipates, she said.

The swimming prohibition is definitely affecting attendance, they said. By now the campground sites for the July 4th weekend are usually all taken, he said. Instead only about 30 of the 150 sites are reserved so far.

While the park is often filled on summer weekends with as many 8,000 people, there were only about 50 people there Sunday afternoon, Honigs said.

Since they don't have to spend time watching swimmers, the lifeguards are now working on other projects, such as spreading mulch and fixing a dock, Honigs said.

The swimming prohibition is causing other problems.

Business at the Canteen Service, a general store at the lake, "is real bad," said employee Debbie Kline.

While she said the store is usually "packed" on weekends, there were only two customers, buying soft drinks and candy, at 12:30 p.m.

Due to the reduced level of business, the number of employees working at a time has dropped from three or two to just one, she said.

Park visitors can still play volleyball, hike, bike, picnic, ride boats and fish, but anyone violating the "no swimming" signs faces a $50 fine.

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