2005-08-25 / Letters to the Editor

Beach debris

I don’t know who is supposed to be cleaning Mackerel Cove beach, but whoever it is should be fired or replaced.

The beach is such a disgrace this year. I have never seen it so bad, and everyone is talking about it.

The seaweed, which is never fully raked, is left in many piles all along the western half of the beach to rot and draw flies.

Where is the supervision of this important asset?

Most towns truck their beach seaweed away. Not us.

It is time we had some professional management of this very special little beach.

We should increase the fees for daily parking (off islanders).

The police should be much more agressive about ticketing cars without resident stickers.

The lifeguards should be told to sit in their stands, which they don’t.

There is no excuse for the disgusting debris that has been on the beach all this summer. Town Council, please take notice.

Milton Bickford

Beavertail Road

Editor’s note: We asked Jamestown Parks & Recreation Director Matt Bolles to respond:

I understand that there are some complaints regarding seaweed at the town beach this season. I recommend reading the article which appeared in last Sunday’s Providence Journal describing the seaweed problems in Middletown and Newport as a good starting point for those truly wishing to understand the issue. Although our seaweed is a different species, the increase in sheer volume this season is similar, and the causes the same.

For those calling for heads to roll, I offer the following: Mackerel Cove Beach is raked by tractor and york rake seven days a week, weather and tide permitting. This does not mean you will not encounter seaweed. Using today, Monday, Aug. 22, as an example, the beach was thoroughly raked between 8 and 9 a.m. Unfortunately, high tide occurs today at 10:30 a.m. When the water recedes around midday, tons of seaweed will be left behind, running the length of the beach, and afternoon beachgoers will have to step through it. Firing the person who drove the tractor at 8 a.m. will not prevent this from occurring! For those who suggest trucking the weed away, remember that would also mean trucking away tons of sand with it. Even if we could afford the expense, we can ill afford to truck tons of sand away from our tiny, already shrinking beach.

One more note of caution for those interested. Mackerel Cove’s water quality is tested twice each season. Three samples are taken each time. The first test in early June showed no detectable levels of bacteria at all three sites. This is consistent with past experience, even mid-season. The second test one month later, however, showed a count of 63 at the west end, and 81 at the middle of the beach. The highest acceptable level is 108. We have never before had readings approaching 80 percent of the allowable level.

So what is different now? More boats in the cove? More runoff? Higher than usual water temperatures? All of these factors are probably contributing to increased bacteria and increased seaweed growth.

The real solutions, I fear, go well beyond the local level, and well beyond our budgetary limitations. I hope action can be taken soon at the state and even the federal level. In the meantime, we’ll keep raking!

Matt Bolles, director of parks

and recreation

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