Pleasant Pond has been a resort going back more than a century, and a swimming hole for neighborhood families for generations. So neighbors were shocked when the town removed lifeguards from the beach in 2002.
Without lifeguards, people began going elsewhere to swim, and unmonitored traffic into the beach became a problem, according to Regina Baker, who grew up off Pleasant Street by the water's edge; she lives next door to her childhood home.
Back in 2005, Baker and her husband, David Baker, began collecting signatures to try to get the lifeguards back.
Then, in the summer of 2005, a local woman, Lipica Pradhan, was struck and killed by an automobile coming from the beach on Pleasant Street. The beach was closed for the summer.
The next year, Baker and neighbors formed the Pleasant Pond Neighborhood Association, and went to Town Meeting requesting a return of lifeguards, but the town didn't want the liability for monitoring the pond.
Baker said the compromise they got from the town was the use of gatekeepers employed by the town to control traffic into the parking area by the beach.
"There was a huge difference with the traffic," Baker said.
Growing up on the pond and having neighborhood kids as lifeguards was something she always knew, Baker said. "I always took it for granted there would be a beach there," she said.
Improvements made by the town since 2006 have included a new gate and gatehouse, a grading of the parking lot, and the posting of bylaws. Baker said the boat landing and fishing areas are helping to keep the pond more accessible to fishermen.
The town recreation area is maintained by volunteers who do clean-ups and plantings. Revenue raised from parking stickers sold to Hamilton and Wenham residents also pays for upkeep.
David Baker said the Wenham Police Department has helped keep the parking lot safe, and the Essex County Sheriff's Department has helped maintain the beach the past two years.
Standing on the beach with their one-month-old daughter, Abigail, in a stroller, the Bakers said the sense of community has been restored.
"We brought the community back," Regina Baker said.