Gravel work reignites Beach Avenue debate


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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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.