SUTTON – Paul Kawolis knows every inch of Lake Singletary.
There are neighbors – and memories – at every cove, nook and cranny, on the shore and just beyond the trees.
He has lived on the 330-acre lake since 1999, but his memories go back even further. Originally from Millbury, Kawolis learned to swim here. He and some of his Millbury High buddies call the lake home.
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So are many other friends and neighbors with connections ranging from the UMass Memorial to Papa Gino’s.
Most of these friends and neighbors, along with Kawolis, are members of the Lake Singletary Watershed Association, a private group of homeowners and recreational users that helps maintain the quality of the lake.
They do not own the lake (it is managed by the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife), nor are they the enforcers of the rules.
“We are not an enforcement agency,” he said.
The main purpose of the association – to keep the lake clean, control weeds and promote safety.
“We want to have a fun time, but a safe time,” said Kawolis, the current president (and unofficial oracle) of the association. “We want to at least make people aware of what they should be doing.”
A tour around the lake
As Kawolis showed the homes that were once the site of seasonal camps, he pointed out a less attractive resident of the lake — invasive weeds.
Just below the surface near Sucker Brook at the southern end of the lake, the weeds lurk, mostly milfoil and fanwort.
“We did a pretty good job treating the weeds,” said Kawolis.
Membership dues ($125 per year) provide most of the funding needed to control the weed, with Sutton providing additional funding.
The state used to provide funds for weed control, but that stopped years ago, according to the association’s website.
Continuing up the lake and away from the weeds, Kawolis cruised past Marion’s Camp, a site formerly owned by Central Mass. Camp Fire Council and is now owned by the City of Sutton. Near the beach is Goddard’s Lodge, donated to the Camp Fire Council by the family of “rocket man” Robert Goddard.
Stately homes line the banks, but along the way a chimney or family camp roofline peeks out through the trees.
Another old house stands on an island connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge. The house is nicknamed “Wendell’s Island” (for the owner of Cordis Mills in Millbury) or “Moon Island” and is a rarity in that it is currently uninhabited.
Kawolis can remember when “there were very few year-round people” and about “20-25 year-round houses”. Today there are 160 year-round residences surrounding the lake.
The Millbury Page
About 80% of the lake is in Sutton, 20% in Millbury. Because the water slide is on Millbury’s side of the lake, that town has the water rights, Kawolis said.
This has to do with the earliest use of the lake by colonial-era settlers – hydroelectric power.
According to Kawolis, John Singletary built a grist mill in 1720 and used the lake to provide hydroelectric power. Near the mill is the S&D Spinning Mill on West Main Street.
Also on this side of the lake – a boat launch (managed by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation) and Harris Point, once home to a family run ice house.
Nearby is Singletary Point, the only commercial enterprise along the entire lake. Kawolis said it was a place to rent boats, eat a burger, get some petrol for the boats and – through the town of Millbury – take swimming lessons.
The water ski team also competed around this part of the lake, mainly in the 1950s and 60s.
He showed where there used to be a ramp and where spectators used to gather.
The team has long since gone ashore (liability issues, according to Kawolis) and the business has been converted into a private residence. A “Singletary Point” sign remains, which can be seen from the lake.
On the wild side
In addition to swimming and boating, the lake offers an abundance of wildlife.
Above the water there are ducks, Canada geese, cormorants, blue herons, osprey and bald eagles. Underwater there is bass, pike, trout (stocked by Mass. Wildlife) and bass.
Around the lake there are frogs, turtles and muskrats, among others.
activities and more
Club members do more than keep the lake clean and control the weeds. Participate in social events such as B. the recent Earth Day cleanup and Fourth of July Boat Parade; They also volunteer for programs like the Adaptive Water Skiing Program for people with special needs.
The association’s website contains information about the care of the lake, seasonal safety tips, newsletters, event information and much more.
Visit https://lakesingletary.org/ for more information.