Editorial: Barrington should take down the barricades

Posted 5/7/20

Two days of warm sunshine illuminated a stark reality in Barrington last weekend. When thousands of residents stumbled out of their houses into the bright sun of a true spring weekend, they found …

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Editorial: Barrington should take down the barricades


Two days of warm sunshine illuminated a stark reality in Barrington last weekend. When thousands of residents stumbled out of their houses into the bright sun of a true spring weekend, they found barricades blocking the entrances to their public parks.

For the most part, the barricades were irrelevant. People walked, biked, jogged, scootered or skateboarded all over town, up and down the bike path, past the barricades, to the beach and into the grass, fields and sand of this majestic community.

Yet there stood the barricades, blocking Police Cove Park, Walker Farm, Barrington Beach, Veterans’ Park and Osamequin Wildlife Refuge, to vehicular traffic and/or visitors. They were a bright orange symbol of Barrington’s aggressive strategy to manage its population during this global pandemic.

Placed per order of the Town of Barrington, the barricades had no impact on the bikers or walkers. However, they formed a blockade of all public access points for boaters or kayakers hoping to do more than actually look at the water.

A family with a Boston Whaler, hoping to enjoy the spectacular weather and spend a few hours fishing, had no public access points to launch their boat. A couple of kayakers hoping for exercise or escape on Hundred Acre Cove had no public access to the water. Anyone without a yacht club membership or a luxury waterfront estate with private dock was simply out of luck — in Barrington.

Outside of Barrington, they had plenty of options. They could drive to Warren, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton … all had open, accessible boat ramps or public launching areas. Only East Providence (which has since announced parks are reopening) and Barrington formed boating blockades.

We say Barrington has been among the most aggressive communities during the pandemic, because it has. Barrington has chased a father-and-son from a baseball diamond. Barrington has scolded a child for shooting baskets alone on a court. Barrington has fined people for playing tennis on a closed court. And Barrington has blocked kayakers and boaters from enjoying the water.

More than any community, Barrington seems to treat its residents like children who can’t be trusted. The blockade of Barrington Beach is to prevent groups of people from clustering and violating social-distancing regulations. The primary culprits are teenagers.

Ironically, the barricades do almost nothing to impact teenager behavior. The irreverent youth scoot or bike right past them and congregate freely. The adults, on the other hand, are locked out of the public spaces that their tax dollars support.

Barrington has so far been a model community for adhering to pandemic restrictions. There is near-perfect compliance with mask and distancing guidelines at the grocery store. People (other than teens or young kids) are not gathering in groups. The vast majority of grown-ups “get it.”

Yet the town continues to treat them like children. Open the tiny wildlife trails. Open the kayak launch. Open the boat ramp. All are physically and emotionally healthy. Not one is a threat to society.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

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.