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

Posted

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.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.