Ridgefield's Mamanasco Beach Club gets a facelift to provide 'a better experience for all'

RIDGEFIELD — After shuttering last summer due to COVID-19, the Mamanasco Beach Club is slated to reopen on June 5 following a series of cosmetic improvements to the grounds. A new management committee consisting of a half dozen volunteers is cleaning up the beach now that the lake is ready for swimmers, boaters and sunbathers to enjoy.

In the weeds

Mamanasco Lake Improvement Fund (MLIF) Vice President Barbara Hartman said that since the lake is “very shallow,” it tends to yield a lot of weed and algae growth as the weather warms up, creating “a yearly battle to keep it healthy,” she said.

“There have been years where the algae was so bad that people couldn’t swim,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

Each year, MLIF hires a company to treat the 95-acre lake every two to three weeks as a preventive measure, but since the permits to do so “got tied up for months” at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Hartman said, treatments began a month later than expected, on May 11.

“Some of the weeds were four feet tall by the time they treated it,” she added.

The company uses the chemical herbicide — which is safe for humans, fish and aquatic life but toxic to plants — to control the weed and algae growth at the lake and make it hospitable for recreational use. Without treatments, Hartman said, “the lake becomes completely clogged.”

“It’s so important for us to protect the waters from an ecological standpoint because it is open to the public,” MLIF President Dean Williams said. “A couple of things that set Mamanasco Lake apart from other recreational locations in the area is the state boat ramp (and) the beach club, which is an absolute gem.”

Bringing back the beach

Amy Roy moved to Ridgefield from New York City last July and bought a house four doors down from Mamanasco Beach Club. She got involved with MLIF before closing on the property and later learned of the club’s history in town.

“It was a popular, thriving, vibrant club years ago, but as kids grew up, people moved away and there was a change of neighbors it fell into disrepair, and COVID was kind of the cap on all that,” Roy said. “Now that we’re coming out of this, we want to get it back up and running for the good of everybody.”

Roy is part of the committee of volunteers — including longtime member Marc Greco — working to revitalize the club for the upcoming season. Roy’s main focus is drumming up membership, which has tapered off substantially. At its height the club had 60 families — right now it has roughly 20 families “and growing,” she said.

The committee will spend the next few weeks readying the club for opening day. Member Shahan Islam, of Wilton, is spearheading a number of physical improvments, including recoating the basketball court, repairing the playground equiptment and painting the bathroom building.

The committee also plans to clear the boat launch of “weedy wet grass,” organize the boat storage rack, clean the docks and rid the beach of debris, Roy said. She added that local contractor Jason Ferrandino, from Premier Outdoor Living & Landscaping, will donate a new firepit for the beachfront, and that the barbecue grill there will be upgraded, as well.

In addition to the opening day party on June 5, members can look forward to an Independence Day celebration Fourth of July weekend, monthly movie nights the last Friday of each month and the Ridgefield Regatta (date to be determined).

All the programming, food and supplies are paid for through an annual membership fee, which is $150 for families, $100 for individuals and $75 for seniors.

Life on the lake

Moving forward, Roy said she is interested in building a bridge between the club and MLIF to provide “a better experience for all” visitors of Mamanasco Lake. This August, MLIF will celebrate its 50th anniversary, which will be marked by a series of “fun stuff for the community to be a part of,” Williams said.

“The club brings so much life into this lake,” he added. “Without it, there wouldn’t be as much engagement.”

Roy encouraged residents to sign up, saying, “This is a really wonderful resource in a healthy lake environment, and it’s here for the community.”

For more information, visit mamanasco.com.