Parking ban hits Little Compton's South Shore Beach, Lloyd's Beach, Town Landing

Beach walking still allowed; Other Little Compton destinations may be next

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 4/10/20

LITTLE COMPTON — Little Compton took action Friday afternoon to prevent parking at South Shore Beach where some report seeing large numbers of cars and lots of people in recent …

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Parking ban hits Little Compton's South Shore Beach, Lloyd's Beach, Town Landing

Beach walking still allowed; Other Little Compton destinations may be next

Posted

LITTLE COMPTON — Little Compton took action Friday afternoon to prevent parking at South Shore Beach, where some report seeing large numbers of cars and lots of people in recent weeks, as well as at Lloyd's Beach and Town Landing.

People will still be allowed to walk on the beaches but must be able to get their on foot — no vehicle parking allowed.

That was the consensus of the Little Compton Town Council which met remotely to discuss a couple of items Thursday evening. The meeting came on the heels of a 5 p.m. Beach Committee meeting that included input from the police and fire chiefs.

Formal action was taken Friday by council President Robert Mushen, working with Town Solicitor Richard Humphrey and with council member Larry Anderson who had prepared some wording for such a measure.

The statement read:

"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Town of Little Compton has decided to close South Shore Beach, Town Landing, Lloyd’s Beach to vehicular traffic and parking.  These properties will remain open to pedestrian traffic.  In addition, there will be TEMPORARY NO PARKING on the following roadways:

South Shore Road

Ocean Drive

Rhode Island Road

Sakonnet Point Road (southern end)

Bluff Head Avenue

Grange Avenue

Quaker Hill Farm Road"

And beyond closing these locations, similar actions may be taken “at the next and the next and the next” location where people have reportedly been parking and gathering in unhealthy numbers, Mr. Mushen said.

“Closing vehicular access at South Shore Beach is the first step,” Mr. Mushen said, and we will then move forward with others.

Among those other locations mentioned at the meeting were Sakonnet Harbor, Simmons Mill, Wilbour Woods, Taylor’s Lane and more.

One by one, council members weighed in — all were in agreement with the move.

“I support a robust closure now because if we don’t do it now it will only get harder as the weather improves,” Mr. Anderson said. It will be challenge, given the town’s limited staffing, he said, but sufficient signage (which is presently in short supply) and enforcement will make the difference.

Gary Mataronas said he took a ride down to South Shore Beach recently and it was loaded with cars, most from out of town. He also said he has seen a terrific amount of foot traffic at Sakonnet Harbor and Lloyd’s Beach. 

People from out of town and state see Little Compton as a safe, virus free place to visit and look at the ocean, he said, “but they are the ones that are going to bring it to us.”

He also cautioned that people are going to try to park on roads close to South Shore Beach, including Indian Acres.

Mr. Mataronas said there had been talk of allowing only town residents to park at South Shore Beach “but we’re not sure what kind of nightmare that would cause.”

Andrew Moore said he is agreement, noting that the closure of parks and beaches elsewhere in the state has dissuaded people from congregating.

Paul Golembeske said he supports the idea and that a primary concern is the first responders who must enforce the gathering rules, not only at South Shore Beach but at other popular shorefront areas in town. He said he recently saw 55 cars at South Shore Beach and that people were congregating in the parking area, not so much out on the beach.

Mr. Humphrey recommended that the council not take a vote, rather have Mr. Mushen act unilaterally on the council’s behalf in accordance with the emergency declaration approved on March 16.

Rather than effectively having “two town councils,” he said, letting Mr. Mushen handle such decisions will help protect the “simplicity, responsiveness and nimbleness” of the March 16 emergency declaration.

Several people offered comments through the meeting’s “chat” function, remarks that Mr. Mushen read aloud.

One wanted to know whether Town Landing will be closed to vehicles. Mr. Mushen said that will be looked at further.

One person questioned the wisdom of closing the beach parking lot, saying that most people simply park there and stay in their cars to enjoy the view. 

“We would be impeding that group of people,” Mr. Mushen acknowledged, adding that he doesn’t know how both groups can be accommodated.

Why not limit parking to those who have a town dump sticker,” a resident asked.

If you close South Shore Beach to cars, that traffic will just move to Town Landing, another said. 

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