Blue Lights At Blue Hole

Police Increase Patrols At Popular Swim Spot

Posted: August 15, 2014

New “no parking” signs have gone up in the Blue Hole area along U.S. 33 in Rockingham County. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — Blue Hole revelers, you’ve been warned.

County officials have revealed that new “no parking” signs have been posted on the shoulder of U.S. 33 above the popular and problematic swimming hole in Rawley Springs.

Since acquiring Blue Hole and its surrounding 4.5 acres in 1973, the county has frequently dealt with complaints regarding excessive noise, illegal parking, trespassing and littering at the area.

With the only public access down a steep 50-foot embankment, many visitors to the swimming hole park illegally along the shoulder of the busy highway, leading to concerns about people exiting their vehicle in the middle of the    eastbound lane.

This summer, Virginia State Police and county sheriff’s deputies have stepped up patrols in the area.

Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said that his office had received 16 complaints regarding Blue Hole since roughly the beginning of the summer swimming season.

 Those complaints resulted in seven summonses being issued.

While three of the complaints were for excessive noise and two were for trespassing, the vast majority of the complaints were related to parking and traffic concerns, Hutcheson said.

State police 1st Sgt. Frank Pyanoe, while not having any specific data regarding citations issued, did confirm that his agency had also issued a summons for improper parking, and have conducted more routine patrols in the area.

Pyanoe said that VSP hasn’t had to tow any vehicles from the shoulder in the past month, but they have done so in the past when vehicles were found to be illegally parked.

Rockingham County Supervisor Bill Kyger, in whose district Blue Hole sits, said that the “no parking” signs are only a temporary solution to last for the summer — especially since the signs are frequently a target for vandalism and theft.

A more permanent solution on the swimming hole is to be determined after the close of the swimming season.

Among the options the county laid out at a June meeting: selling the property; transferring the land to surrounding landowners; donating the area to a third party, such as the federal government or a civic group; obtaining an easement to solve the parking problem and develop the area as a park; post “no trespassing” signs and enforce the policy; or keep the status quo.

Contact Bryan Gilkerson at 574-6267 or bgilkerson@dnronline.com



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