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'New' Town Beach - What Should It Be?

The lack of detail in the draft Beach Management Plan is an good opportunity to shape the way our beach is used into the future.

Many Barrington residents now know that a new beach house is being constructed at the town beach. 

In November of last year, a consultant for the town developed a “Beach Management Plan” to discuss how the town was going to manage the beach into the future.  The Conservation Commission, on which I serve, was asked to review the plan and has sent comments to the Town Council and Town Planner. 

Due, I suspect, to a lack of direction from town representatives and a lack of effort on the part of the consultant (although I don’t know what their charge or budget was, so perhaps I am being unfair), the Beach Management Plan is a whole lotta nothing. 

To their credit, town officials recognized its shortcomings, which is why the commission was asked to review it, and I expect that other town commissions were also asked. The draft plan is located on the Town Planner’s web page, for those interested in reviewing it (http://72.46.3.26/townplanner.php).

One thing that struck me about the Management Plan, besides the utter lack of meaningful detail, was that there did not appear to be a clear goal from the town on what the future Barrington Town Beach should or needs to be.  Without knowing what you’re aiming for, it’s difficult to define how to manage it. 

The management plan was heavily weighted towards maintenance and recreational activities, which is fine, but no (and I mean no) mention was given to the beach’s conservation value, nor was fishing at the beach discussed. 

Knowing how contentious the beach house was, I suspect some residents may have a thing or two to say about the plan.  As the plan is written, proposals include extending the beach “season”, expanding the area of beach that is monitored by the lifeguards, offering more organized activities (like swimming lessons and sporting events), extending the beach maintenance schedule, and developing an erosion control plan. 

Please note that these were proposals written by the consultant; the extent to which the town has accepted them or (more importantly) financially committed to them is not known by me.  These may be good goals or bad goals; I think that’s subject to interpretation. 

From my perspective, I’d like to see portions of the beach not currently used for swimming left in a more or less natural condition, and whatever landscaping is done be limited to native, non-invasive coastal vegetation like beach grasses and bayberry, with no treatment by fertilizers or herbicides.  And I’d rather see the beach maintenance improve rather than extend, and recreational activities take place away from the main “beaching” area.

But that’s me. What about you? 

I’d like Barrington residents to take this opportunity to weigh in with their opinion on the future of the beach. I ask you all to be respectful, stay on point, and make your comments constructive.  This is not an opportunity to vent.  If you want to bitch about town spending, do it elsewhere.  But if you have an opinion on how our beach is used and maintained into the future, I’d like to hear it. And hopefully town representatives will hear you, too.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill July 23, 2011 at 05:28 PM
It would be nice to have a place to be able to bring your dog. Maybe a small section at one end of the beach. As a child I have fond memories of bringing my retriever down to the beach all the time. Now it seems you can't bring your dog anywhere.
Ernie Andbert July 23, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I agree with Bill. As a responsible pet owner, I understand the importance of leashing and cleaning up after my dog. It would be nice to have a small section where I would be able to swim with my dog.
eliza July 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM
It would be nice if walkers and bikers had a safer place to enjoy the beach. As it is now, you have to walk behind the parked cars. In the summer there's a lot of pulling in and backing out, and you always feel in the way. I have to hang on to my son to make sure he doesn't get hit. It makes walking long the beach less enjoyable. I'd love to see the first few feet of the now parking lot (up against the sand) be dedicated to walkers and bikers instead of parked cars. Something like a little boardwalk would be perfect, but even a painted "walk/bike lane" would suffice for now. I'm down there a lot and always see people walking, biking, walking their dogs, etc. I think it would benefits lots of people.
Barrington Resi July 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM
I like what the improvements the beach. I would also like to see picnic tables, playground and make it a family area that all ages can enjoy and stay the day. It's town gem that has been way underutilized.
Cyndee Fuller July 24, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Bill and Baron, I hear your concern about dogs; I've heard it from others, as well. The current town rules are that dogs are not allowed at any Town-operated beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day (Town Charter, Chapter 67), so any change would require a change in the Charter. The concerns I've heard most are about unleased dogs gone wild and un-picked-up waste, which can ruin the water quality and result in a beach closure. See the attached article I found while surfing (no pun intended)(http://www.dogfriendly.com/server/travel/info/tips/beachetiq.shtml). In my personal experience, many people in town arrogantly disregard the leash law and give all law-abiding pet owners a bad name. Perhaps if you can work on your kindred dog owners on this issue, someday some benefits could be extended.
Cyndee Fuller July 24, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Thanks for the input Eliza, I'll pass your thoughts along.
John P. Saviano July 24, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Hi Cyndee, I'm new to this discussion & I was wondering, is the current beach going to be renovated or is there a new site proposed for a new beach?
Cyndee Fuller July 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM
John, the location is the same; the town just has plans for the new beach house (under construction), landscaping, and other improvements.
Moses July 26, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Why the town would spend any money or effort at improving such a polluted area is beyond me. That beach is closed every year for fecal contamination. Even after the water tests are okay the sand is still contaminated. I don't want my children playing in a dirty toilet. Until the sewer overflow problem in permanently corrected no money should be spent there.
Cyndee Fuller July 26, 2011 at 12:53 PM
I believe it is hoped that the "little dig" project will eliminate or at least greatly reduce the combined sewer overflows that affect the beach. The Rhode Island Department of Health compiles data on beach closures, and current and historical data for Barrington beach are at this link: http://www.ribeaches.org/beach.cfm?beachID=RI245197. So far this year, the beach was closed on one occasion (July 14-15), twice in 2010, four times in 2009, three times in 2008... so it's not an isolated occurrence. I, too, am wary of the water quality at the beach (and Narragansett Bay in general) and don't swim there. I head to Little Compton.

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