Volunteers clean up beach after July 4 party

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 3:45pm

After the Fourth of July long weekend, the Town Council opened its meeting with public comment. Surprisingly, there were no call-ins about mopeds, or drunken tourists, or Fourth of July mayhem.

Some members of the public had already made their comments known, however.
“We received texts about the beach,” First Warden Andre Boudreau stated. “Some of them were nasty.”
On Sunday, July 4, the beach below the Ocean View Pavilion became quite crowded with young people, many of whom were drinking and partying. While some hyperbolic reports put the number of attendees at the beach party in the thousands, Chief Matt Moynihan told the council it was in excess of 500.

“We need to look at some other options,” Moynihan said, describing the narrow trail used to access the beach as not adequate for emergency use. He informed the council that he and Town Manager Maryanne Crawford would be meeting with the Land Trust to discuss the issue.
“It limits our ability to enforce any type of public drinking, underage drinking, drinking on the beach, and more importantly, to respond in a timely manner to an emergency out there; it will be an ongoing discussion and I hope to have an update on how we resolve that in the near future.”

Second Warden Sven Risom mentioned that in the past there was access for emergency vehicles, on the edge of Ballard’s property, but that “it’s been blocked over the years by dumpsters, and opened sort of back and forth.” He said he thought Ballard’s owner Steven Fillippi would be open to allowing ambulance access, however.

“Historically, that’s been the best way to do it,” Risom said.

Moynihan said he had been in contact with Filippi and that access is closed, with Filippi’s security stopping access to the public beach. Moynihan said he believed the people were accessing the beach through the paths from the Ocean View property.
The chief also mentioned that even if he could get access for a vehicle, with that many people packed onto such a small beach, it would be hazardous to operate the vehicle once it was there.

“I am confidant and comfortable knowing you are working on it. You and Maryanne will come up with great solutions for these issues,” Boudreau said.
Besides the obvious problems of public drunkenness, overcrowding, and the potential for catastrophe should an ambulance actually need to rescue or save one of these beach party goers, a major consequence of these large parties on the beach is the garbage.

The pictures received at The Times showed the massive mounds of refuse left behind after the party-goers departed.
Crawford spoke to the council about the clean up efforts, saying that she had received the texts and complaints as well, including pictures of all the litter.
Crawford told the council when she arrived at the beach Monday morning, “there were 10 to 15 young adults down there cleaning up.” She said she went over to Ballard’s to ask for more bags, and by the end of the cleanup they had gathered 15 bags of trash. By 10 a.m. the beach was clean.
The good Samaritans were not even Block Islanders, with Crawford stating that the young people were visiting from North Kingston and Jamestown.
“They had 90 percent of the work done before I could even get trash bags to them,” she said.
“They were not pleased with the way the shoreline was left,” Crawford said, adding that it was “really encouraging” to find them there cleaning up.

Boudreau agreed, saying it was encouraging to have a group of volunteers who weren’t even from here “taking it upon themselves to clean it up.”

Crawford said she was working on getting in contact with the volunteers, and she was planning a formal thank you from the town for their efforts.