Enforcement of traffic regulations is making parking more difficult at Chapoquoit Beach.
“With Chapoquoit Beach, there has been a lot of concern and confusion about parking over there,” Captain Brian L. Reid reported to selectmen at their Monday, July 8, meeting.
Captain Reid said Chapoquoit Road by the beach’s parking lot has long been a no parking area.
“We’ve always traditionally done our best to get out there and enforce no parking, as there simply isn’t the space to have a standby lane at Chapoquoit the way we have at New Silver,” he said. “New Silver has a dedicated space for standby waiting area that is off the roadway, but at Chapoquoit the roadway is so narrow that you can’t have a standby lane and also have safe travel lanes for people to get in and out of the island and for pedestrians to move through that area.”
This is not a new regulation.
“I want to inform everyone that we didn’t change the parking regulations particularly with regard to street parking,” Captain Reid said. “There was a clarification that was made, recommended through the traffic advisory committee last September and approved through the board earlier this year.”
This clarification added the phrase “in each direction” to an existing regulation, which now states drivers shall not park “upon any roadway where the parking of a vehicle will not leave a clear and unobstructed lane at least ten (10) feet wide in each direction for passing traffic.” He said this change reflects how the department enforces that parking regulation.
Joseph Strazzulla of Old Dock Road said this enforcement severely impacts the ability of neighborhood residents to get to the beach. People in the area continue to queue, waiting for access to the parking lot.
“It is not the parking attendant’s job to enforce street regulations, and it is not the police’s job to enforce parking lot access,” Mr. Strazzulla said. “There are other places in town where you wait at the beach. It is on the roadway, leading to the beach, and people queue up there. It is an informal situation, and while no one can agree if it is 100 percent adequate or not adequate, it is just what has been done.”
Now, those in the queue are being told to move along by police.
“The point I’m making is, without considering the servicing of a community to access a public beach, you’ve taken a 30-year process and disappeared it immediately, without anybody knowing until the signs went up on the beach,” he said.
He said something can be worked out to accommodate the community seeking to park at Chapoquoit Beach, perhaps with a police detail on the busiest days.
“It is a process that needs to be worked out among the three organizations, the DPW, beach committee and police department,” he said. “Some accommodation needs to be made for the realities of the situation.”
Captain Reid said a detail was unlikely, as the days when Chapoquoit Beach is busiest are the days the town as a whole is busiest. Assigning staff to a detail would impact public safety in other areas of town.
Both Mr. Strazzulla and selectmen asked why the sidewalk was removed from Chapoquoit Road in that area. Deputy director of public works Peter M. McConarty said it was removed in an attempt to accommodate a queuing lane.
“The measurement did not fully work out,” Mr. McConarty said, as it increased the width of the roadway to 28.5 feet.
In order to accommodate a queuing lane, the roadway would need to be 30 feet wide. This includes 10 feet for the queuing lane and 10 feet wide lanes in each direction. At 28.5 feet, Chapoquoit Road falls short.
The town cannot expand the roadway further due to the dunes and the parking lot, he said.