By Matt Sheley, Town of Middletown

The temperatures might have been hovering in the 30s, but the Town Council had the beaches on its mind tonight.

During a meeting held via internet videoconference, local leaders heard a working operation plan for Second and Third beaches from Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown for the upcoming season.

As part of the proposal, Brown said residents would again be given priority, the family first nature of the beaches would be emphasized and some COVID-19 restrictions were anticipated.

The council took no action on the plan. Before anything moves forward, Brown said the Beach Commission and impacted town departments must be consulted and council have to review the recommendations.

“There is a lot of work associated with this, but it provides a framework,” Brown said.

“From my perspective, this is still evolving,” council President Robert J. Sylvia said.

Every year, the subject of the beaches can be a hot one, no matter the time of year. Whether the town plans on adding amenities or changing access, raising the parking fees or the price of renting a site at the Second Beach Family Campground attracts attention far and wide.

And this upcoming season is no different, particularly after the changes brought on for
summer of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike prior years, the town did not offer a daily parking rate last summer, only seasonal passes. The number of people allowed on the beaches was reduced and certain sections were designated “residents only” to help grapple with the impacts of the virus.

These changes brought applause from most residents and property owners, who said they finally had their beaches back. They commended town officials for coming up with a plan that gives locals preference for parking and access to both Second and Third beaches.

Anticipating another summer dealing with the repercussions of COVID-19, Sylvia and council Vice President Paul M. Rodrigues asked last month for town staff to come up with a plan for the beaches for the summer of 2021.

Tonight, Brown rolled out a 26-page presentation outlining ideas for how to handle the
summer of 2021. Among the goals for the beaches included:


• Prioritizing resident access.
• Making all of Third Beach “residents only” and half the Second Beach parking lot for
residents.
• Having one traffic lane into the main lot at Second Beach for “residents only,” with
the other lane for all other transactions.
• Restoring the daily parking fee at $20 for weekdays and $30 for weekends and
holidays.
• Maintaining seasonal passes at $70 for residents, $65 for seniors and $30 for
motorcycle passes, with compared to $140 for nonresidents, $130 for nonresident
seniors and $60 for nonresident motorcycles.
• Continuing to get rid of the second “free” sticker for residents to open up more
parking opportunities.
• Going “cashless” with all seasonal and daily parking sales.
• Selling seasonal parking passes would be sold online and at the gazebo at Hanging
Rock and Sachuest Point roads.
• Establishing more family nights and an end of season fireworks display to boost
community spirit.
• Continuing COVID-19 distancing and safety protocols to keep patrons safe.

Because of the lateness of the meeting, the council didn’t have any discussion on the matter.
Instead, Sylvia said the council would address the plan at its next meeting on Jan. 19 at 7
p.m.

To view Brown’s report, visit https://clerkshq.com/Content/Attachments/Middletownri/210104_14.pdf?clientSite=Middletown-ri online.

“This is an ongoing discussion,” Brown said. “We will work through it and update it as we
get closer to Memorial Day.”

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