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Latham Park Erosion Study on Table

The Barrington Town Council will be asked on Monday, March 12, to approve an $18,500 study on how to halt erosion at Latham Park in Bay Spring.

Barrington is a few days away from beginning a study of how to halt shoreline erosion once and for all at Latham Park on Narragansett Bay in the Bay Spring neighborhood.

A proposal from EA Engineering Science &Technology Inc., an environmental consulting firm, will go before the Town Council at its meeting on Monday evening, March 12, said Town Planner Phil Hervey. Click here for the EA website and a brief video introduction to the company.

The firm will collect data, provide feasible options, hold public workshops and meetings, and write grants for potential state or federal funding, said Hervey. The cost of the study is estimated at about $18,500.

Halting erosion of the shoreline at Latham Park has always been part of the master plan for the site. It got renewed attention early last fall from a push by two neighborhood groups who want to renovate the playground at the park, albeit with competing proposals.

The groups could not agree on a compromise playground plan. But they did manage to get the Parks and Recreation Commission to endorse erosion control first before approving any playground for the park – and the sooner the better.

“We voted for the Town Council to direct the town manager to address the erosion problem before any playground is approved,” said former commission chairman Melissa Horne. See the Patch story.

The town councilors did just that by a unanimous 5-0 vote after hearing Horne say: “Erosion there is pretty well documented. Before more investment is made, we need to make sure the improvements are protected.”

Phase One of the master plan for Latham Park does recognize that the shoreline needs to be stabilized first. Much later in the plan does it touch on creating a new play area.

The town drafted an RFQ (request for qualifications) to solicit the expertise needed to study the site and develop cost estimates for what Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. describes as a “shovel-ready project.”

“It’s time we had a good, sound concrete plan,” DeAngelis said last year.

It is the lack of funds for Latham Park – funds from a recreation bond that were shifted to Barrington Beach instead -- that put the master plan on the shelf even as a new playground was being sought.

Manifold Witness March 09, 2012 at 12:32 PM
When Barrington hired a full time Planner it was said that the full time Planner would be getting grants and that was supposed to be a big selling point. But now, it seems that there is always a consultant hired. So now the full time Planner (in a built-out Barrington) is paid to manage paid consultants. Wasn't the Planner supposed to have the necessary planning skills? And now we learn that there's a "lack of funds" for Latham Park erosion because the Town Council felt that a new beach house was a better use for the available "recreation" funds. CRMC and RIDEM have information about erosion and what to do about erosion.
Cyndee Fuller March 09, 2012 at 11:45 PM
That's not fair, MW. It is appropriate to have outside consultants who have the expertise to evaluate erosion issues. This is not a skill any planner would have or would be expected to have. Addressing erosion is more complicated than throwing a bunch of rip rap rocks on the shoreline. Actions to mitigate erosion at Latham Park can have consequences in downstream shorelines, and a poorly-conceived erosion control plan could result in either a scouring or deposition of sediment on downshore properties. And what were conventionally acceptable approaches in the past have become, over time, short-sighted approaches that were ineffective or even damaging. We need a consultant to examine and possibly model the effects of different feasible state-of-the-science options so that these approaches can be compared. If we're going to spend our collective money, let's make sure we are spending it on a sound approach. And I must defend our planner; he's a whiz at getting grant money and being a positive force in getting things done in town. I, for one, am thankful he is here.
Manifold Witness March 10, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Original work: Not fair? Barrington taxes going up in a bad economy. That's unfair. Fair? Evaluating services the taxpayers get for that price. The full time planner was supposed to save money by limiting consultant costs. It is fair to look at his job skills for a small waterfront town that's nearly “built out”. Not fair? Many consultants are still hired –like to design a Police Cove park plan that’s not compliant with regulations like the ADA; $30,000 to evaluate Zion & state the obvious when DEM studies show underground USTs; legal fees for drafting&redrafting silly ordinances; sidewalks crumbling; steets are a mess, there's lack of paving coordination with willing utilities. Taking “extra” money from “recreation” & street bonds, then adding more $$$ for unnecessary beach house. Grant money’s not free, especially if tax money has to be added & necessary earmarked projects ignored. “Affordable” housing? Unsold & wet in a dry season. Planning to build more?! Why not a sensible municipal impetus to replace obsolete legislation with a plan that reflects the current state of the economy? Erosion determent? A waterfront planner should be able to use free resources (like CRMC initiatives, Coastal Landscape Program, etc.) to determine how best to deter nature. “Comprehensive Plan”? Consultants. Mistakes. Not approved. See: http://clerkshq.com/content/Attachments/barrington-ri/120312_19.pdf?clientSite=barrington-ri
Cyndee Fuller March 10, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Sorry, MW. Evaluating erosion is best left to geologists and hydrologists who understand the hydrology of the coastal environment. Trying to do certain things in-house is not smart. You can disagree if you want, but it doesn't make you right.
Manifold Witness March 11, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Another Original Work Entitled, “Here’s What it’s All About”: The government hires the staff to allegedly fill the jobs. Then the staff have to figure out how to get to retirement without actually doing any work. They complain that they are underpaid, overworked and unqualified so they hire consultants to do the actual work. The consultants do mounds of “feasibility studies” that end up in dusty piles. And all of that costs so much that there is no money for supplies like asphalt & steel to fix the crumbling infrastructure. Or to actually hire actual laborers to do the actual work. So all of that has to go out to bond. But no investors want to buy the junky bonds because the expensive government can't manage its way out of a wet paper bag and it’s all too risky. All one has to do is look at the patchwork of disgusting roads in Barrington to see one ugly manifestation of this. Dangerous bridges are another dangerous manifestation. Anyone who thinks what's going on with RI government is defensible deserves to be paying the ridiculous taxes. No one with any brains would manage their own finances this way if they had a choice. It's as unsatisfying as seeing "blogs" from a blogger who would copy material from the "New York Times" into the “Barrington Patch”.

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