Parking lot project underway
The plan of creating a berm flanked by old telephone poles to separate the south parking lot from Corn Neck Road at the Town Beach has been getting some poor reviews. Small piles of dirt contained within two rows of old poles did not sit well with passersby. One caller (out of several) to The Block Island Times asked “whatever happened to good taste?”
“We’ll dress it up, and it will look nicer,” town Facilities Manager Sam Bird told The Times. Bird noted that, “The poles will remain, but they will be buried. The dirt in between the poles will be rounded off and contain plantings of beach grass.” Bird said the poles are being installed along the road to “eliminate parallel parking” on the curb.
The parking lot will have double the capacity to accommodate about 107 vehicles. The parking lot renovation was part of the $940,000 beach pavilion rehab project, which was completed in the spring of 2018.
Bird said the budget for the project should not exceed $12,000, and be completed “in the next three weeks. The Highways Department is doing the work,” using local materials, including old telephone poles and soil and sand.
Bird said the parking lot would be increasing by “about 40 to 50 spaces. It roughly had about 50 spaces,” he said, before noting that people park their vehicles along the road in that area when the lot is full. “We’re estimating that there will be about 107 total spaces.”
Bird said the Highways Department plans on installing four rows of removable concrete wheel stops in the parking lot to denote parking spaces. “There will be a center aisle” where two rows of wheel stops will be angled in different directions. “It will be more efficient this way.” Bird noted that the wheel stops would be removed in the fall.
Construction of the parking lot has raised eyebrows, with some people voicing displeasure at the unsightly line of old telephone poles installed end-to-end along the side of Corn Neck Road.
Mike Shea, the New Shoreham Highways Superintendent, said his department was “still in the process of getting the beach parking lots ready for the upcoming season. Each year we dig out the sand that accumulates in the lots, and in recent years we replaced sand along the revetment on Corn Neck Road. That isn’t needed this year.”
Shea said the south parking “lot has been enlarged and the excess sand will be used to build a berm between the parking lot and the road.”
As for the beach pavilion, Bird said the plumbing in the building would be “turned on in the next couple of weeks. We start by opening the bathrooms in the building” to the public. Bird said the beach pavilion would be opening at the end of April/beginning of May on weekends only until mid-June, when it will be open full-time.
School oil system investigated
The School Department is also conducting an investigation into the cause of an oil leak onto the playground at the Block Island School that happened on March 18, leading to its temporary closure.
The playground reopened after the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management gave the area a clean bill of health on April 8. School Superintendent Mike Convery said at a School Committee meeting that same day that the spill was being looked into.
The school’s oil delivery system will also be taken apart to determine the cause of the spill, said Bird.
“It will be a systematic opening of pipes. The school’s oil system is complicated, so we won’t have an idea of the cause of the spill until we investigate that.”
Bird said although DEM was “concerned about the spill and the clean up, that’s done.” An independent agency conducted remediation of the site, digging holes into the earth, and providing soil samples for testing.
Bird said the investigation of the oil ,delivery system would begin when the school no longer needs to use the heating system.
“We will start in logical places and see what we find. It will be exploratory surgery. Depending on what we find we’ll do what we need to do to correct it,” he said.
As for funding the investigation and repairs, Bird said those funds would probably come out of the school’s maintenance and repairs budget.