This summer, public spaces at Marshall Shore on Lake St. George and the Stevens Pond boat launch in Liberty have been upgraded with benches, picnic tables and aluminum handrails to help people get in and out of the water safely. Credit: Bob Kohl / Citizens' Association of Liberty Lakes

Just about every day, Bob Kohl of Liberty likes to go for a swim at Marshall Shore, a small town park on Lake St. George.

In the past, because of slippery, sloping ledges and irregular rocks, he found that just getting into and out of the water could be a challenge. It could even be dangerous for older folks or those with mobility issues.

“It’s not for the faint of heart, to get in and out safely,” Kohl, a board member of the Citizens’ Association of Liberty Lakes, said.

But this summer, that has changed.

Thanks to volunteers and a grant from the AARP, this spring, aluminum handrails were installed at both Marshall Shore and the Stevens Pond boat landing to make accessing the water easier and safer. There are also aluminum access steps at Stevens Pond and picnic tables and rustic log benches at both locations.

The improvements matter because being able to get to the water is an important part of summertime in Maine. That’s not necessarily as simple as just jumping into a cool, appealing lake or pond to splash and swim.

So helping people who make it to the swimming spot navigate safely over slippery rocks to get to the water has been especially satisfying, Kohl said.  

“These improvements enhance the experience of Liberty residents and visitors who frequent these popular lakes for swims, picnicking or just enjoying nature,” he said.

For Kohl, one of the best parts of the upgrades has been the way that the members of the Citizens’ Association of Liberty Lakes worked with the town of Liberty and local business owners to do something for the public good. Lake associations in Maine often are known for their work on issues of water quality, water level and invasive aquatic species.  

“Sometimes lake associations get associated with private property. ‘Oh, I’ve got a camp on the lake and I want to make sure the water level is right for me and mine,’” he said. “This was for the public areas, to make them more inviting and more safe.”

He’s especially pleased with the benches and picnic tables, which were made of local pine by lake association member Yogi Kroeckel.

Pete Beckford, another Liberty resident, said he’d like to see lots of other folks use the swimming hole, too.  

“They’re beautiful picnic tables,” he said. “It’s a great place, and it’s nice to see it cared for.”