Impact from America’s Cup felt in Jamestown
Restaurant owner John Recca said that all three of his restaurants – the Narragansett Café, Jamestown Fish and The Shack – had great weekends.
“The Shack at Dutch Harbor was booming all weekend,” he said. “We sold dozens and dozens of lobster rolls. The mooring field at Dutch Harbor was full and the foot traffic was terrific.”
Recca reported that the ’Ganny was busy from Thursday through the weekend, and that the indoor dining room at Jamestown Fish was fully reserved on Saturday and Sunday. He said that there was a lot additional people choosing to dine on the outdoor patio once the heat of the day dissipated. Both restaurants featured the racing on their televisions over the weekend.
Recca was grateful for the extra business, even if he wasn’t sure what generated it. “Given this was the weekend before the Fourth of July, it’s hard to quantify whether the increased traffic is the result of the holiday or the ACWS. Hopefully both.”
At one time Recca was a competitive sailor himself, and he liked what he saw from that perspective as well.
“It was a terrific show. The short course, fast boats and close-to-shore format appealed to a far greater crowd than the old style of racing 7 to 10 miles out to sea.” Recca said that the old-fashioned approach to racing was out of view to all but the lucky few who had boats big enough to make the trip to see the sailboats “racing slow through long courses.”
“I think the organizers should be congratulated on the event,” Recca said. “I am unaware of any problems and all seemed to go well. It was a great start to what looks like a fabulous summer here in Jamestown.”
Prior to the America’s Cup World Series, there was a great deal of concern regarding traffic in Jamestown during the event, particularly at Fort Wetherill, which provided an excellent – and free – view of the race course. Months of meetings be- tween the Police Department and the state Department of Environmental Management, which runs the park, resulted in a positive, incident-free weekend.
According to Robert Paquette, chief of the parks division for the DEM, everything went well. Although the large crowds that were predicted did, in fact, materialize, the advance planning paid off. Among the plans was one to prohibit access to the park if it reached a predetermined capacity.
“We had to close the park on Saturday and Sunday because we reached capacity,” Paquette said. “Other than that, everything went very well. There were no problems, no injuries. It was very well attended, a really great event.”
Paquette added that all of the advance meetings between the DEM and the Jamestown police led to everything working as it was planned. “There was great coordination between the two agencies.”
Jamestown Police Chief Edward Mello was also satisfied with the way things went over the course of the weekend. “From our perspective, it went very well. Managing the traffic flow in and out of Fort Wetherill went very well. Late in the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday, they did reach their capacity limit, so we did have to stop people from going in there.”
Mello said that the digital signage proved effective as well. The signs were placed at strategic places, and messages were changed in order to provide drivers with the latest information about the status of Fort Wetherill, and advise them about other options that were available.
“The digital-signage plan that we had in place seemed to work very well,” Mello said. “Everybody, upon seeing that Fort Wetherill was full, found other places to go.”
The Jamestown police also posted temporary no-parking restrictions on the streets around Fort Wetherill to prevent people from parking and walking into the park when it was already at capacity. Mello reported that people abided by the restrictions and that there were no incidents or arrests related to the America’s Cup.
Mello said that the coordination between his force, the DEM and the North Kingstown Police Department, which was also involved in the traffic-control effort, was effective.
Jamestown Harbormaster Sam Paterson got an up-close and personal look at the 45-foot catamarans as they sped around Narragansett
Bay. His responsibilities included keeping spectator boats away from the racers, and he reported that it went well with the exception of a couple of minor incidents.
“It was a great event for the sailing world,” Paterson said. “It’s exciting to see them up close. Those guys really book. It was uneventful in terms of crowd control.”
Bill Munger, owner of Conanicut Marine Services, added an extra ferry boat for the occasion, and said that not only was it a worthwhile investment, in hindsight he would have added another boat.
“We ramped up service. People were really happy. We got backed up a bit on Saturday, so we made some course corrections and on Sunday things smoothed out for us.”
Conanicut Marine offered a VIP package, which provided parking at the Taylor Point boatyard and shuttle service to East Ferry, along with the ferry ride itself.
“They were thrilled,” Munger said. “They knew where they were going to park and they knew what boat they were going to get on. It worked out well.”
Added Munger, “The overall impact on the community, from what I could see, was really positive. In our world, we were all busy, but we didn’t have any hiccups.”