Editorial: Grinnell’s Beach — Great job!

Posted 7/4/19

Just a few years ago, a gas station dominated the view over Grinnell’s Beach, Tiverton’s most visible stretch of shoreline. The remnants of what was once Stone Bridge had collapsed in on …

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Editorial: Grinnell’s Beach — Great job!


Just a few years ago, a gas station dominated the view over Grinnell’s Beach, Tiverton’s most visible stretch of shoreline. The remnants of what was once Stone Bridge had collapsed in on themselves to the point that the state had to order the pier closed. Even the beach was a disappointment, abused with rotten bait, snarls of fishing line, rusty hooks, cigarette butts and other foul flotsam. All in all, a most shameful welcome to Tiverton.

The transformation celebrated at Thursday’s dedication of the new Grinnell’s is stunning.

The gas station is gone, in its place a grassy park offering shady places to sit beneath the shelter of ‘sails.’

The pier has been rebuilt bottom to top, offering a superb spot from which to take in one of the region’s premier views — the entire length of the Sakonnet River, catch a fish, tie up a dinghy and watch the boats go by. Perhaps more important, that solid pier provides protection to Tiverton Basin, the harbor shared by Portsmouth and Tiverton, against southerly storms and rising seawater.

And the beach itself has been reborn. Its well-raked sand now features rock sculptures that somehow look like they were always there and is reinforced by recently planted beach grass.

For a town dominated of late by bickering, what just happened at this beach shows the things that can be done when people work together — town, harbor commission, state and, above all perhaps in this instance, volunteers.

Cutting the ribbon isn’t the end of work at Grinnell’s Beach. The list of challenges ahead will require that same sort of cooperation:

• Maintenance will require more than the occasional visit to empty the trash. Keeping this place fresh should be a duty shared by all, especially those who visit. Rules stipulating no tobacco must be enforced, and fishermen, dog walkers — all need to be fanatical about the ‘leave no mark’ ethic.

• Town and state must keep watch over the beach grass and that pier. When cracks appear, when lights fail, which they will in such a vulnerable place, repairs must be made before it all becomes too much (this runs counter to the Rhode Island way).

• The town needs to find ways to make sure it has lifeguards on staff — Memorial Day to Labor Day.

• Perhaps most vexing for a beach whose parking spots are at a premium, rules need to be set that prevent every last Saturday morning spot from being claimed by out-of-state fishermen. The Westport lesson suggests that will eventually require some sort of sticker system.

But for now, all involved deserve applause for a job well done.

And may this success provide a model for the rest of the job — the pier’s dilapidated Portsmouth side.

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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.