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Hopeful swimmers react to Castaic beach closures

Posted: May 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Scores of Castaic Lake patrons expressed anger and frustration Sunday when they learned at the gate that there was no swimming allowed at the park.

“That’s the only reason we come here is to go swimming,” said Julie Posadas of Lawndale, as she relaxed in a hammock inside the shade of some pine trees near the shoreline.“If we wanted to just barbecue, we could do that at home.”

She and her family made the 45-mile trek to the park just to be told at the gate kiosk that swimming was prohibited at the park this summer due to safety concerns posed by the worsening drought.

“I went online to the (Los Angeles) County site and they just said it was closed Memorial Day,” said Alexander Paz, in the hammock next to Posadas’.

On May 15, Los Angeles County officials announced there would be no swimming at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area for the rest of the summer, the first such closure in the park’s history. Drought-induced receding water levels have created conditions they said were unsafe, particularly for patrons who may lack advanced swimming skills.

But while media outlets received news releases about the closures, the same news was not posted online, according to many interviewed at the park Sunday.

“We even called last week to see if it was open,” said Iosefo Mikaele, who drove two hours from Long Beach to see his kids splashing and swimming in the lake.

“And, they charged us the same (park entrance fee),” he said.

Mikaele and the 20 others in his extended family — including a relative who drove an additional 2.5 hours from San Diego to be with the group — were all disappointed to learn there was no swimming.

“I’ve had 20 people turn around here when they found out they couldn’t go swimming,” said a young woman manning the kiosk at the park’s entrance, taking fee money for parking.

Brothers Jose and Sergio Salazar drove from Los Angeles to take a dip in the lake.

“We came here to go swimming,” Jose said, turning food over on an outdoor grill. “Of course we’re disappointed.”
When told that 20 patrons turned around at the park gate, he said: “It’s more like a hundred people.”
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