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At long last, Little Compton Town Landing job set to go

Work starts Monday on making seaside site safer, more attractive

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 10/14/20

LITTLE COMPTON — There’s been talk of giving Little Compton’s Town Landing the treatment it sorely needs for over 70 years — volunteers have been at it with more urgency for …

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Please support local news coverage –

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At long last, Little Compton Town Landing job set to go

Work starts Monday on making seaside site safer, more attractive

Posted

LITTLE COMPTON — There’s been talk of giving Little Compton’s Town Landing the treatment it sorely needs for over 70 years — volunteers have been at it with more urgency for nearly a decade — and on Monday, that work will finally begin.

That’s the day Little Compton excavator Chris Wilkie will start transforming what is already a spectacular oceanfront location into the Town Landing Committee’s (TLC) vision of a safer, better protected and more attractive public recreation area.

Following plans drawn by Able Engineering and landscape architect Chris Fariat, and concepts developed by volunteers over time, he will re-make the entrance with a proper emergency vehicle lane, create a one-way vehicle loop, along with a better defined parking area with spaces for 24 cars (overflow parking for special events such as Easter sunrise services or perhaps a prime surfing moment will be possible out on the grass).

There will be a walkway from the parking area to the beach.

Town Landing is a bit unique in that it tends to be particularly popular in bad weather. It’s a favorite place for surfers and wave watchers during storms, but all those cars on wet ground and grass have left deep ruts and mud, said Robert Marra, chairman of the TLC.

The area will be graded for better drainage out toward the sea, and then get new sod and seed.

A bigger worry has been the eroding bluff.

“Underneath the bluff is all scalloped out,” Mr. Marra said, “but you could be standing right on it and not even know.” A few years ago they put up a temporary barrier to prevent motorists from driving up to the edge and, perhaps, into the ocean, an unfortunate outcome that has happened at least twice over the years, he said.

That temporary barrier will be replaced by more substantial and better looking riprap, and then a selection of attractive native plants whose roots, its is hoped, will help knit the the bluff together and slow the pace of erosion.

For those plantings, among them rosa virginiana, they are following guidance provided by Wenley Feguson of Save The Bay.

Most of the work should be done in about a month (the Town Landing will be closed during that time). The planting will be completed next spring — planting this late in the season in the midst of a drought would be pointless.

Six companies bid on the project and Little Compton talent won the job. Not only was Mr. Wilkie the low bidder, “but he is local, lives a half mile from the Landing and has been enjoying it since he was a child.”

Mr. Marra said he is still amazed by how abruptly the long-anticipated project reached the point of Monday’s groundbreaking.

Though a team of volunteers wanted to make improvements, the landing project always “took a back seat … The town has had other financial priorities," he said. 

That changed last spring, when they submitted a citizen’s stroke asking the budget committee for $15,000. The request was granted at town meeting, a five-member committee was formed, and by June they were holding their first formal meeting – and they haven’t slowed down since.

"We've made more progress in the last six months than we made in seven years," Mr. Marra said. 

With an additional $4,000 in town budget money, that $19,000 town commitment enabled the town to apply for $80,000 from the state, a grant approved in full recently by the Department of “Environmental Management.

Some of that money has been spent on design work and, with total costs estimated at from  $100,000 to $120,000, the committee hopes to raise another $25,000 to cover additional beautification work, and unexpected changes.  

Also planned is a stone memorial to benefactor Hester Simmons whose house there was swept away by the 1938 hurricane.  Before her death in 1948, she had outlined a specific wish in her will for her property, known today as the Little Compton Town Landing: “...that the [tract] of land shall not be commercialized, but shall always be used for recreational purposes – free to all.”

Tax deductible contributions can be sent to:

Little Compton Town Treasurer

Town Landing Project

P.O. Box 226

Little Compton, RI 02837

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