Gravel work reignites Beach Avenue debate

Seen from the Knubble, town vehicles prepare the Beach Avenue for gravel last week. Seen from the Knubble, town vehicles prepare the Beach Avenue for gravel last week.

Seen from the Knubble, town vehicles prepare the Beach Avenue for gravel last week.

Seen from the Knubble, town vehicles prepare the Beach Avenue for gravel last week.

The plan to pave Beach Avenue was nixed by a 3-2 Board of Selectmen vote but controversy continues along the oceanfront road.

Some residents said they became upset last week when it became apparent that roadwork was being done clear out to the Knubble, about 700 feet beyond where they had thought it was to be done.

Highway Surveyor Gonsalves said Monday that he does intend to gravel the road out to the Knubble, as he said he has repeatedly said at Selectmen’s meetings.

“It is nothing more than road maintenance and public safety. People are getting stuck out there all the time,” he said.

He said he intends to do the work Wednesday if weather allows.

Several neighbors, though, said their understanding was that the plan was never to go out as far as the Knubble with gravel. Doing so risks damage to barrier beach, they contend.

The state Department of Environmental Protection authorized only “regular road maintenance,” said resident Constance Gee. “Building a gravel road all the way out to the Knubble goes way beyond regular road maintenance.”

She added that it’s evident that Mr. Gonsalves is being directed to do the work by a selectmen minority. They are “portraying this as people down here wanting to keep people out but but it is nothing like that … It’s political theater and it’s sad.”

She said that she and others believe that a better alternative would be to stabilize the dunes out there, provide a couple of handicap access parking space at the proposed turnaround, and to put in a boardwalk that would provide “people with disabilities with real access … that they will not otherwise have.”

“They are laying a road base in a restricted area … doing three point turns, backing into dunes,” Ms. Gee said.

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