(Host) Voters in the town of Wilmington have told nude sunbathers at the Harriman Reservoir to “suit up.” Tuesday’s vote was close – 289 to 282 – in favor of the ban on public nudity.
The Selectboard passed an indecency ordinance in June to address what they saw as a problem at a popular swimming area known as the Ledges. On a warm weekend, the area at the Harriman Reservoir can draw several hundred people, many of them unclothed. The ban was scheduled to go into effect early this month, but a group of residents petitioned the town to put the ordinance up for a vote.
Sonia Alexander has been town manager for more than 20 years. She says the voting turnout was good, and also very close:
(Alexander) “At one point it was 281 to 289. So if four people had voted yes instead of no it would have been a tie.”
(Host) Alexander says it’s been a long, hot debate and residents believed strongly in their opinions.
(Alexander) “It’s a big deal to the people who are concerned both ways. I think many people were reluctant to give up liberties and privileges and many folks were just tired of the controversy.”
(Host) The town manager said the vote qualifies for a recount if someone requests it. She expects that will happen sometime Wednesday.
Now that the issue has been decided, the town manager says the Wilmington police will be on patrol for offenders as the department’s resources permit. Nude sunbathers who don’t contest the charge will be fined $50 for a first offense.