Sarah and Andrew Spencer are closing the Bobbin Mill, a popular but privately-owned swim hole in Warren as of September 1.
“This summer has been really exceptional in The Valley in terms of overcrowded swimming holes. This decision is something we’ve been coming to for a solid year now. But as hot as it was this summer, we felt we really didn’t want to close it until it cooled off. If we closed it early, it would just result in more pressure on every other place,” Sarah Spencer said.
“What I really want to do is reserve the word of mouth and internet activity that made it so popular in the first place,” she said.
The issue is people disregarding signs about where they can drive or park, people ignoring the signs that note that dogs are not allowed, people leaving dog waste and trash behind, people climbing over barriers erected to separate ongoing construction from other areas and more.
“I’d love to think that if we put a sign that says ‘no visitors today, construction underway’ that it would get respected. But that doesn’t happen. People are walking over the barricades while we’re working on the roof,” Spencer said.
“COVID, lots of Valley visitors, word of mouth and social media sharing has created a situation that is way beyond what we can manage with signage and trying to educate people,” she added, noting that signs that they put up earlier in the spring had been removed and one was found thrown down a hollow with beer cans.
The sign that was thrown down a hollow had been made by her late father, Barry Simpson, and it offered a basic message about the Bobbin Mill being private property where overnight camping and fires were not allowed and where trash was to be cleaned up.
“People come down with dogs and ignore the signs. I have to confront people and I don’t like doing that. People have a sense of entitlement,” Spencer said.
Compounding the fact that people are rude and disrespectful is the fact that she and Andrew are working on fixing the roof of the existing mill building while also erecting a new 2,500 square foot building for Andrew’s welding business, Mad River Metal Works. Both are volunteers for the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service and Sarah has her own private veterinary practice, Bobbin Mill Veterinary Services.
Over the years, her parents have worked to lessen the publicity that the Bobbin Mill received. That site used to be regularly sampled for E. coli as part of Friends of the Mad River’s River Watch program. Her father prevailed on Friends of the Mad River to stop testing and posting results for the Bobbin Mill, but then the property was listed without her dad’s permission in a book about New England waterfalls.