Beach pass created for disabled residents without cars

There will be a new pass instituted this summer for disabled residents who want to access the waterfront more easily.

Ray DeFalco, director of parks and recreation, proposed the caretaker pass to the town council in January without objections. Residents who qualify for the so-called beach sticker, which requires a vehicle registration with a Jamestown address, would be eligible for the caretaker pass if they also meet criteria for a handicap placard. These placards are issued by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.

“You don’t have to have one, but you would have to meet those same criteria,” DeFalco said.

Unlike the beach sticker, which is linked to a specific vehicle, the caretaker pass would be transferable. Any vehicle carrying a person with a caretaker pass will be permitted at the restricted sites where beach stickers are required. Both passes, at an annual fee of $15, allow entry into Fort Getty and parking at Mackerel Cove, Head’s Beach and Park Dock.

DeFalco said the reason for his proposal was due to calls from elderly disabled residents who do not drive. With a caretaker pass, that resident could access the recreational sites if they are being transported by nurses or visiting family members, for example.

The caretaker pass would be linked to the disabled resident, not a vehicle. The pass would have the resident’s name on the back with the year it was issued. The pass would be presented to the staff working at Mackerel Cove and a day pass would be written and displayed on the vehicle’s rear-view mirror. The resident named on the pass must be present for use.

Residents who cannot walk without the use of a brace, cane, crutch, wheelchair, prosthetic or another person also are eligible. Residents who suffer from lung disease to such an extent that forced expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, also qualify.

The final three kinds of eligible residents would be those who need portable oxygen, residents with severe cardiac condition (Class III or Class IV) or residents who are legally blind.