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Parking ban debated for RI Road near Little Compton's Lloyd’s Beach

Town Council to discuss emergency vehicle access issues

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 6/3/20

LITTLE COMPTON — The coronavirus barrier at the entrance to Rhode Island Road at Sakonnet Point has been removed but issues remain there including safety and public access.

The Town Council …

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Parking ban debated for RI Road near Little Compton's Lloyd’s Beach

Town Council to discuss emergency vehicle access issues

Posted

LITTLE COMPTON — The coronavirus barrier at the entrance to Rhode Island Road at Sakonnet Point has been removed but issues remain there including safety and public access.

The Town Council will take those up on Thursday (after the Sakonnet Times goes to press) but already the little road has been the focus of visits by the town administrator (at least five times), the police and fire chiefs, and Town Council members. Road residents have hired a lawyer.

It may be short but Rhode Island Road has lots going for it. The road starts at Sakonnet Point Road’s final curve before Sakonnet Harbor, then runs south to near Lloyd’s Beach. It offers spectacular lighthouse and ocean views and has long been a place where residents, and sometimes non-residents, park to walk to the beach.

But that parking (a sign proclaims it temporarily closed to parking at the moment) had also raised concerns among people who live there that emergency equipment, including fire engines and ambulances, might not be able to squeeze past parked cars to reach houses down the road.

The police and fire chiefs were brought out for a look and agreed that vehicle access could be a problem.

Late last August, “The two chiefs and I visited and what we observed was that it was pretty narrow,” Town Administrator Tony Teixeira said, perhaps so narrow that, with cars parked along the side, a fire engine might indeed have difficulty.

But when that led to talk of banning parking along the road, some “on the council said, ‘Time out … That road is wide enough that it should be able to accommodate parking and emergency access,’” Mr. Teixeira said.

So the town had a survey done, he said, and “sure enough, the road right-of-way is exactly 33 feet wide.”

The survey revealed, Mr. Teixeira said, that, over time, there has been encroachment on the public right of way with plantings and boulders.

He said he is now of the opinion that, if the encroaching shrubs and rocks are cleared, there is room for both parked cars and emergency vehicles. “No (stone) walls need to be removed, no fences need to be removed.”

He added that the solution seems straightforward and that he would be disappointed to see it turn into a costly legal dispute.



Suggested solutions

Among options that have been proposed and circulated among road residents were these (prepared by a resident of Rhode Island Road) …

  • Parking ban on RI Road, seasonal only during “the four summer months;”

  • The neighborhood clears the 33-foot right of way of obstacles - “important for emergency vehicles to pass at any time of the year;”

  • Pavement remains the same width;

  • Space for 2-3 handicap parking spaces on eastern side of Rhode
    Island Road;

  • Install a couple of speed bumps;

  • Explore turnaround option at end of road to permit families to drop off people and beach stuff before returning to park;

  • Establish parking spaces along Sakonnet Point Road. This involves some thought including marking spaces, determining the number of spaces, painting the road and marking pedestrian lanes for safety (we don’t want to trade a hazardous situation on our street for a hazardous situation on the harbor road);

  • Rules clarifying that access to Lloyds Beach is in fact limited to Little Compton residents;

  • Enforcement — clear signage (best left to town and Police Department).

Council member Gary Mataronas said he objects to any attempt to close off Rhode Island Road to parking and worries that pushing parking to Sakonnet Point Road would create a new danger by forcing pedestrians and cyclists into that busier roadway.

And he said he fears that “If we close down that road (Rhode Island Road), a precedent will be set” that would block residents from shore access parking on other local roads.

The Little Compton town website has instructions for viewing and participating in remote council meetings.

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Matt Hayes, Sakonnet Times Publisher

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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.