Editorial: Beach Pavilion should be open by now

Sun, 06/09/2013 - 2:00pm

There were about 80 students, plus assorted teachers, visiting the island and having a bonfire on town beach the other night. It was a beautiful night, crisp and clear, and the kids were all camped out about 100 feet or so from the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion. They were taking pictures and throwing Frisbees and enjoying the atmosphere and beauty of the island.

A passerby might notice something amiss, though. The public beach facility was under repair and looking sadly dilapidated. There were three untidy looking portable outhouses — on the Corn Neck Road-facing side of the building. The outhouses, even if the group knew they were there, could not have been very appealing to anyone of any age, while the dunes, just as nearby, may have offered a pleasant alternative to relieve oneself. We’re not casting aspersions on this or any other group, but it’s a plausible scenario. It’s what happens. There may be unforeseen consequences to not having the beach pavilion open as the crowds begin to thicken on Block Island — consequences other than the building simply being an eyesore.

Privately owned businesses understand the value of preparation. Beginning in March, business owners on Block Island are cleaning, polishing, refurbishing, repainting and redesigning their businesses in order to get ready for the summer crowds. Our government, on the other hand, didn’t act with the same kind of efficiency. It’s too bad that the same sense of urgency was not shared in order to get the most prominent public facility on Block Island open and ready for business by Memorial Day.

This isn’t a question of assigning blame to any one person or group. Perhaps it’s a collective shortcoming. We also know there were external circumstances (dealing with insurance companies, the lack of a local builder for the project) that have impacted the process. And it was good to see a construction crew at the building this week.

This current situation, however, may afford the town an opportunity to audit the process of what happened between Superstorm Sandy and now, and to put in place a plan to ensure the process of repairing municipal facilities moves along more smoothly if (and perhaps when) it ever happens again. Experts believe we’re entering an era of volatile weather, to say the least.

The phenomenon known as “island time” is sometimes treasured. But in some instances it most certainly is not.