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Bellingham, YMCA Enhance Activities at Silver Lake

Silver Lake is an enjoyable setting for children to sharpen their paddle-boarding skills.

Municipal Spotlight
Bulletin Staff Writer
The town of Bellingham and the Hockomock Area YMCA of Franklin are a terrific example of reciprocity and how it should work.
Webster’s Dictionary defines reciprocity as “a mutual or cooperative interchange of favors.’’ That would lead to a reciprocal relationship, and that’s what began at Silver Lake Beach on June 18 and will continue until Labor Day weekend.
The Franklin branch of the YMCA is providing lifeguards at Silver Lake Beach (on Cross Street in Bellingham) at no cost to the town. Bellingham, however, will allow the YMCA to conduct swimming lessons (for children six months old to age 12) at the beach and to also run a summer camp for youth, which includes boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and swimming. The camp, which got underway on June 20, will continue until Aug. 19 and the hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But, parents can opt for a longer available time frame. 
There is a fee for the swimming lessons and also for the camp. The swim lesson schedule and information on the costs are available on the town’s website ( 
Town Administrator Denis Fraine, who initiated the agreement with the YMCA 10 years ago in 2012, says the town saves significant money by having the YMCA provide lifeguards, who can earn as much as $20 per hour. “The town isn’t in business to manage a waterfront but the YMCA is,’’ he emphasized. “That’s a huge benefit for the town.’’
Lifeguards are on duty at Silver Lake from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until Labor Day. A minimum of two lifeguards will oversee beach activity but that number would increase to as many as five, if needed. The beach is open beyond Labor Day but no lifeguards will be present.
Scott Martin, the executive director of the Franklin branch of the YMCA, deals with the organization’s day-to-day operations and community relations. 
“Bellingham is in our service area and that gives us an opportunity to make the program more convenient,’’ Martin said. “Silver Lake is a unique location that really can’t be replicated. It’s a win-win arrangement for us and for the town.’’
Martin also emphasizes that enrollment for the swimming lessons or the summer camp is open throughout the summer. “And, we don’t turn anyone away if the fee is a financial problem,’’ he said. “We work with families if there’s difficulty by offering a scholarship process for those that need financial help.’’
Fraine notes that the partnership with the YMCA “isn’t just about getting qualified lifeguards, it’s also about providing programs for families.’’ He adds that parents and families can also enjoy the splash park for toddlers and the playground area at Silver Lake.
Fraine said that the arrangement with the YMCA gives the town the ability to keep the annual fee at $10 for residents to go to Silver Lake. The fee enables the town to deal with costs like testing the water quality and emptying trash and garbage.
Martin points to another plus the YMCA offers Bellingham families — before and after school programs. “Parents can drop off their children as early as 7 a.m. and pick them up by 6 p.m.,’’ he said. “The programs are offered at the Stallbrook and DiPietro elementary schools and also at the Middle School.’’
Martin, who resides in Franklin, has been employed by the YMCA for 10 years. He’s a native of Dartmouth, attended Dartmouth High School and graduated from UMass-Amherst, majoring in communications.
Commenting on the YMCA’s active role at Silver Lake this summer, Martin said: “Silver Lake is a New England experience. Our lifeguards take pride working there and they notice how clean the area is. Our team is a talented group that loves what they do and we’re pleased with the agreement we have with Bellingham.’’
When Fraine was asked if Bellingham’s reciprocal arrangement with the YMCA will continue for the foreseeable future, he had a one-word answer. “Yes.’’
And, why not? Especially when it benefits both and it’s been a winning formula for a decade.
For more information on the Hockomock Area YMCA’s programs, go to
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