Old Harbor stairs open

Street signs added
Sat, 04/29/2017 - 10:15am

“It’s been a long wait. We’re looking forward to using them.”

That’s what New Shoreham First Warden Ken Lacoste said during his Warden’s Report at a recent meeting of the Town Council. He was referring to the new stairs, a project of the Old Harbor Task Group, that have been in the works for many years. The stairs are on Water Street, across from The National and next to The Surf, leading down to the breakwater in Old Harbor.

“I’m totally thrilled,” said Margie Comings, Chair of the OHTG, to The Block Island Times. “We’ve devoted the last three to four years selling bricks and holding fundraising events to do this. The Old Harbor Task Group has worked very hard on this.”  

Construction began on the stairs in mid-February. Comings said they were designed to fit in with the Victorian architecture in the area, and to direct pedestrian traffic from the Old Harbor dock to the beach, as well as protect the slope, which has been eroding.

“The stairs are for safety, environmental reasons and convenience,” said Comings, who noted that she witnessed people trying to traverse the treacherous area prior to the stairs being installed. “Edie Blane had been pushing for steps for many years. I’m delighted with how they turned out.” 

New safety signs

Town residents may have seen some new street signage lately.

In order to make Block Island’s roads safer, the town’s Highways Department has installed yellow street signs with instructions on them all around the island. The signs read: “Bike Right, Walk Left, Drive Safe.” The signs are the result of a study done by traffic safety expert Al Davis, on the recommendation of New Shoreham Police Chief Vin Carlone. At an October Town Council meeting, Carlone said that “41,000 more people” visited Block Island last summer than the previous summer, citing a 12 percent increase calculated by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. 

During a Town Council meeting in February, Davis said that placing signs at a visible height on the town’s roads would help with the island’s traffic safety issues. Lacoste and his fellow Council members supported Davis’s recommendation, which preached ‘sending a message” to educate and inform the public about safety on the island. 

“If you make it look like you care about it, people will care about it,” he said.