Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

There’s Surf and Sun, but is there Sand?: RI Beaches Rebuild Post-Sandy (Op-Ed)

With Memorial Day weekend over, it is officially beach season.

The Providence Journal reports that Rhode Island beaches are in great shape–beach goers can expect the facilities to “look more spruced up than usual.”

“Everything is all set. We are probably in better shape than we ever have been,” said Robert Paquette, chief of parks and recreation for the state Department of Environmental Management. “We’ve done a lot of repairs we haven’t been able to get to for years.”

As optimistic and hopeful as the article sounds, looks aren’t everything–new beach pavilions and life guard chairs cannot cover up the damage caused by erosion. It’s no secret erosion has affected beaches all along the East Coast since Hurricane Sandy (Before/After pictures of the Jersey Shore taken by the U.S. Geological Survey fully illustrate the impact).

I go to Narragansett Town Beach, the family’s beach of choice long before I was even born (it’s where my parents first met) and anyone who is familiar with Narragansett knows the area was affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Black Point
Black Point, Narragansett, RI
The town has certainly invested great effort into cleaning up the beach–the sand has been removed from the parking lots and the street medians, the beach pavilion has been renovated, and the parking lots have been repaved. The Coast Guard House, the 125 year old building which currently serves as a restaurant and was ravaged by the storm, reopened Memorial Day weekend. I couldn’t be happier that the town looks brand new.

But, last week, when my family and I went to check out what it looked like at high tide to find that the surfer section of the beach–the area where lifeguard chairs 1 and 2 are–disappeared under water.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when high tide comes in a hot July afternoon.

In Newport, there’s a different problem to fix: the Cliff Walk. Parts of the Cliff Walk have been closed and will remain closed during reconstruction this summer, according to the Associated Press.  It’s taken some time to figure out the best plan to repair the damage on the 3.5 mile trail–a petition by Clean Ocean Access deterred one suggested plan in April.

As the season continues, hopefully I’m proven wrong and the Journal is right about Rhode Island beaches being better than ever. Until then, I’ll be crossing my fingers that there’s enough room on the beach to fit everyone on this summer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *