2006-05-25 / Letters to the Editor

Park fines explained

Town boards exist so that our citizens can contact them if they have a problem.

At the semi-annual meeting, I brought up an issue that I had been advised of as a representative of the people of Jamestown. That was the issue of Jamestowners or any person entering the park to observe the sunset, sunrise or looking at or photographing the BLMA Christmas lights in the lighthouse windows is subject to a maximum fine of $100. An early spring visit in 2005 resulted in a $100 fine payable to the victim's compensation fund plus court costs in the District Court in Newport to a local resident for violating Section 32-2-4, which says nothing about Beavertail or it closing at sunset. (See www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TIT LE32/32-2/32-2-4.HTM.)

I advised the committee that I had not heard from a single Jamestowner who was aware of being subject to a fine of $100 for being in the park before sunrise or after sunset. The entrance sign only says 'Park closes at sunset' along with 'Keep off the grass', etc.

I introduced the following motion:

Motion to request that the director of (the state Department of Environmental Management) DEM or director of parks issue a directive to the DEM police, as allowed in the preamble to the park rules, to cease and desist citing visitors to the park who are there before sunrise or after sunset.

I supported my motion with the facts that unlimited access to the park was already being granted to the family and friends of the custodian of the lighthouse, to the custodian and friends of the Ft. Burnside Communication and Coastal Defense Museum, to every citizen in Rhode Island engaged in fishing and to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Voting results:

Voting for the motion to allow people to enter the park after sunset: Frank Meyer, Jamestown; Hazel Turley, Jamestown.

Voting against the motion: Linda Warner, Jamestown; Gary Galkin, off-island chairman

Abstaining: Larry Mouradjian, DEM

Motion failed.

L. Mouradjian agreed to supply information on past DEM citations. It was noted that our Jamestown Police Department had never cited anyone for being in the park after sunset, even though DEM Regulation 32-2-15 states that local police have the power to enforce all DEM regulation. Thank you, local police, for exercising good judgment.

Until the issue is changed, I advise every Jamestowner to carry a fishing pole in their vehicle, bicycle or pied if they enter the park before sunrise or after sunset. If a DEM cop wants to cite you for violating section 32-2-4, tell him that you are entitled to be there under the DEM freedom to fish act 20-3.2-3 and the R.I. Constitution.

I hope that DEM applies the caveat stated in the preamble to the park rules: "The terms and provisions of these rules and regulation shall be liberally construed to permit the Department to effectuate the purposes of state law, goals and policies." If not, watch out Don Bousquet, if you take a third picture from aloft of Beavertail for the Jamestown Press, model airplanes are not allowed.

If you or a family member has been a victim of a park citation, please contact me via e-mail at frankandjill@cox.net (or snail mail) with the court case facts.

Frank Meyer, Beavertail State Park

Advisory Committee

Jamestown

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