A group of Little Compton residents, fed up with what they say is inadequate parking at Town Landing, have petitioned the town council to approve a plan that would set aside at least half of the 24 …
A group of Little Compton residents, fed up with what they say is inadequate parking at Town Landing, have petitioned the town council to approve a plan that would set aside at least half of the 24 spaces at the lot for the exclusive use of town residents.
Supporters of the proposal jammed the media center at Wilbur & McMahon School last week to hear councilors weigh the merits of the proposal.
The most significant stumbling block, councilors and Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto told those in attendance, is potential pushback from the state’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM), which in 2020 provided a grant to fund major improvements to the property. Before making a final decision on the petitioners’ request, they said, the town must determine if provisions of the grant would prevent placing any limitations on access to the parking spaces.
“Don’t take any money from the state; there’s always going to be strings attached,” Councilor Paul Golembeske said. “If that money is a federal pass-through grant, that means anybody in the United States can go in there.”
Council President Robert Mushen said logistics relating to the request pose other potential problems. For example, he said, the town would need to come up with a way to verify which vehicles parked at the lot are owned by Little Compton residents and how enforcement of the new restrictions would be handled.
Audience member David Osborn described a recent visit to the site with his wife to watch Hurricane Lee’s impact on the surf. When they arrived on Grange Avenue, they discovered cars backed up all the way to Little Pond Road, waiting to get access to the parking area. It took around 20 minutes for them to finally make it to the parking area, and the entire lot was filled with cars.
“Some were parked askew in the corners, as everyone was trying to find a spot to plug their vehicle.”
Of the 40 cars that were there, Osborn said only six had Rhode Island plates.
“Town Landing is one of the best surfing spots in the northeast and attracts people from all over New England and beyond,” he said. “I am mystified why the parking issue hasn’t already been addressed by the town.”
Osborn and other speakers referenced the late Hester B. Simmons, who willed the property to the town “for the benefit and pleasure of people within the community in perpetuity.” The town ordinance, supporters of the measure say, also stipulates the property is for the use of town residents.
Councilors said they would revisit the request, likely during the second meeting in October, after DeSisto gets clarification from DEM.