Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student gathering at Puffer’s Pond leaves litter

By Nancy Pierce

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Evan Sahagian/Collegian

Last Monday, Patriots’ Day, was a time for students to enjoy a day off from school and take advantage of the nice weather. For many students, that meant spending the day at Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst. Hundreds of students gathered at the pond on their day off, resulting in litter scattered along the beach.

Sybilla Sonoda has been living on the corner across from Puffer’s Pond for 23 years and said a large crowd of students like last Monday happens every spring. She also said the gathering on Monday was the loudest and most congested she’s ever seen and there were cars lined along both sides of the road near the pond making it hard to get out of her house.

Although it was the largest crowd Sonoda has seen at the pond, she said it wasn’t the worst behaved. She said in the past, intoxicated people have urinated on her lawn and left beer cans and litter on her property, which she said she doesn’t appreciate.

She said she doesn’t mind kids hanging out and having a fun time, even in large numbers like Monday; however, she has a problem when they deface her property and leave litter everywhere.

“I don’t mind them having fun there, I mean they’re young, but the litter I don’t appreciate,” she said.

Sonoda said the littering problem could have been avoided if there were more trashcans.

According to Sonoda, volunteers from the area cleaned up the litter and all of it was gone by that night.

Lauren O’Connor, a sophomore marketing major at the University of Massachusetts, was at the pond with a group of 10 to 15 people last Monday. According to O’Connor, there were at least 800 people at height of the gathering.

O’Connor said her group of friends was at the pond to go swimming and hang out on the beach to enjoy the nice weather at what she called the closest beach around. She said the only thing they brought in were water bottles.

She said the gathering was pretty calm and no one was throwing bottles or acting belligerent.

“I wouldn’t say people were rowdy; we kept it within a respectable manner,” she said.

O’Connor said she thought restrictions to avoid the littering problem would be appropriate and that if there were consequences people may not litter there in the future.

O’Connor and her friends left around 5 p.m. and said there were still a lot of people remaining at that time.

“I can definitely see that problem, there were a lot of Solo cups,” she said about the litter.

Shannon Doyle, a junior accounting major, went to the pond on the day off to hang out with friends and roommates at around 1 p.m.

Doyle said there were around 200 people while she was there but that she wasn’t there during the most crowded part of the day.

“It wasn’t rowdy at all. It was mainly people just hanging out drinking a few beers and wine coolers. Everyone was jammin’ out lightly to music and just enjoying the nice weather. Some were tanning and others were swimming. It was a really relaxed atmosphere,” said Doyle.

Doyle said the cops showed up in a charger and motorcycle as she was pulling up. She said they were telling kids to pour out their drinks, but said she didn’t see anyone get arrested.

Doyle said she thought the police who responded to the scene acted appropriately, and thought police should handle more situations in that manner.

“I believe the way the cops regulated Puffer’s Pond was perfect. They showed up to make sure no one was hurt and that it wasn’t getting out of control, and then they left,” she said.

“I believe that the recent regulations taken by the cops and the university are out of control. If you’re 21 and you want to have a beer outside in your back yard with a few friends, what’s wrong with that?” she asked.

This weekend, there was no large gathering of students and the pond was clear of any past weekends’ litter and debris.

Alex Vincellette – 18-years-old from Hadley – and Jake Williams – 17-years-old from Belchertown – were fishing at the pond on Saturday, April 21.

Both Vincellette and Williams were not present at the massive gathering on Patriots’ Day.

They both agreed that there should be regulations in place to monitor the amount of people allowed at the pond so it doesn’t get out of hand.

Vincellette said he wouldn’t want to come back if he saw all the litter from Monday.

When asked if students have a right to drink in large gatherings at the pond, Williams responded, “no certainly not it’s a public place.”

According to the Puffer’s Pond rules and regulations, alcoholic beverages, glass containers and smoking are prohibited.

Nancy Pierce can be reached at [email protected]

 

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