New public docks, shown Thursday at bottom of photo, were recently installed on Long Pond behind Day’s Store in Belgrade. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It was last year that Jeff Baron had an idea to raise some money — in his estimation at least $86,000 would be needed — so that community docks could be installed at Belgrade Lakes for the benefit of people wanting to get out on the water.

His campaign had two leading components: Move quickly so that the docks could be in place this summer, and have the fundraising appeal to a broad array of people, from year-round folks to business owners to summer residents.

His approach proved successful. Baron raised the money over the course of just five months and the Long Pond Community Docks were installed a couple of weeks ago behind Day’s Store on Main Street in Belgrade — in time for the rush of people coming to the lakes for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Baron, 50, runs a financial advisory firm and lives in Wayland, Massachusetts, when he and his family are not at their summer home on the lakes. He expressed his appreciation this week for the legion of people who contributed in one way or another to the docks project.

“What was great about it was that it was a total community effort,” Baron said, adding that there was no involvement or funding from any government or town, only businesses and residents.

A boat pulls up Friday to the newly installed docks on Long Pond behind Day’s Store in Belgrade. About $86,000 was raised in five months to install the public docks. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Everyone who comes to the Belgrade Lakes area, like summer residents, are there because they love the beauty, the quiet of the place, everything about it,” he said. “And that love got translated into this project because it enhanced everybody’s enjoyment of the area and enhanced the support of businesses.”


Diane Oliver, the owner of Day’s, said Baron was able to get “every business in the village” to donate to the project.

“I think this has shown how important access is and how everyone here sees the uniqueness of being able to come to the village to do things,” Oliver said. “Belgrade is special in that we can go to the village by boat.”

Oliver’s family has owned Day’s since 1958. When Baron came to them, they agreed to host the public docks on their land.

“We have known Jeff for a very, very long time,” Oliver said. “We were confident that if this was something he was going to make work, it would work for everyone, and we were happy to be a part of it because there isn’t a lot of public space on Long Pond for something like this to happen.”

Long Pond summer resident Dave Manke said the installation of the docks has him keeping track of how long he can go without getting into a car, now that he can do almost everything from a boat: visit the post office, go to Day’s, get dinner in Belgrade.

“The docks have made access for young kids and 90-year-olds better,” he said. “(The benefits) span generations.”


The docks have room for eight boats to tie up, making it easier for more people to dock and walk over to Main Street.

“It is kind of like a rite of passage when you’re suddenly old enough that your parents let you take the boat into town by yourself to go get something,” Manke said. “It’s kind of like the first time you drive a car by yourself.”

Baron said that anybody who lives on or near Belgrade Lakes or in the towns of Belgrade, Mount Vernon and Rome can use the docks.

“In a time where there is so much division and polarization in our country, it was great to see people jump in and working together on something without any other motivation than helping their communities and themselves,” Baron said. “It’s really a shining light of positivity in times where pandemics and politics and inflation exist.”

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