New walkway proposed for Andy’s Way

Thu, 12/24/2020 - 6:15pm

It was the Town of New Shoreham that was on the Planning Board’s agenda for its Dec. 9 meeting, presenting an application to construct a new public shoreline access walkway at Andy’s Way, and seeking an advisory to the Zoning Board for the construction. Building Official Marc Tillson, Town Manager Maryanne Crawford and Treasurer of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond Sven Risom were present for the discussion.

Tillson provided a brief overview of “what we are proposing” for the walkway leading to the Great Salt Pond.

“The Town of New Shoreham is proposing to construct a new public shoreline access walkway at the western end of Andy’s Way for safe access to the Great Salt Pond. The wood walkway will be approximately one hundred feet long with a width of 10 feet. A clear walking width between the supporting pilings will be seven feet which will allow the public to safely bring small boats across the coastal feature and onto the beach. The seven foot width will also allow our fire and rescue all-terrain vehicles to access to the beach in an emergency situation,” Tillson said in a prepared statement.

The proposed walkway, as explained by Tillson, will be designed to limit erosion, preserve the site, and have minimal impact on the environment. The new walkway will also be designed to allow people with disabilities to have better access to the shoreline.

Tillson said that the access walkway at Mosquito Beach — which had been approved by the Zoning Board in 1993 — was similar to the walkway project proposed for Andy’s Way.

Risom said the Andy’s Way project is fully funded, and had received an additional $15,000 donation from the Committee for the Great Salt Pond. Along with the $15,000, the project will have the $47,000 grant awarded by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to improve the beach access and parking at Andy’s Way.

Crawford said this application “will only enhance the area and access.” Andy’s Way is a favorite location for summer and island residents.

“I used to take my kids there a thousand years ago. Much easier and safer for little kids,” said Planning Board Chair Margie Comings.

Member Christine Grele agreed that the area needed attention. She asked if the new walkway would have a ramp at the end for an easy transition onto the beach.

“We probably will do some platform at the end of the walkway… but the beach is very dynamic, and the elevation of the beach changes. To do a permanent platform at the end of the walkway would be difficult, but I would stipulate that the town would have no problem for the summer months. The purpose of the walkway is to stop people from walking on the erosion that occurs there,” said Tillson. Vegetation and gravel have been proposed to limit erosion, as well as gravel to hold back stormwater runoff.

Member Mary Anderson added that she liked “the idea and the answers in terms of managing the fragile edge of the land,” but added, “I like the idea of people having access, [but] I don’t like the idea of more infrastructure along the edge of the coastline.”

Grele shared similar thoughts on the implementation and structure of the walkway by the shoreline.

“I think access and safe access is important, but I would like to see a gentler structure,” said Grele.

Members Denny Heinz, Tony Pappas, Socha Cohen and Comings liked the design of the new walkway.

“I think this whole thing is a terrific idea that should have been done years ago. It’s going to be a lot easier… a lot easier to carry your bucket of quahogs,” said Heinz.

“I echo Denny,” said Pappas.

“That is a highly used walkway, which is why I support the construction of the beach access,” said Comings.

“By having a safer ramp, it opens up the piece of public to a wider public,” added member Cohen.

Comings made a motion to give a favorable advisory to the Zoning Board, with Heinz seconding the motion. The board voted 5-1; a favorable advisory will be sent from the Planning Board to the Zoning Board for the application.

Three members to leave Planning Board

“I want to send out a big thank you to three members retiring at the end of December,” said Comings. 

Comings announced that members Sam Bird, Denny Heinz, and Tony Pappas would be leaving the board.

“Denny Heinz was on when I joined a thousand years ago – many, many thanks. To Sam Bird, who has been on a number of years, and I want to thank him for his ability to read and help us all understand architecture plans,” said Comings. “And thanks to Tony Pappas for stepping in and picking up the ball when we needed someone immediately. We are going to miss you guys.”