Major Repairs Have Been Completed at Facilities Damaged by Hurricane Sandy
PROVIDENCE - Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer outdoor recreation season, and Rhode Island's state beaches and parks are ready for the crowds. Although some of the beaches and parks managed by the Department of Environmental Management have been open on a limited basis this month to accommodate early beach-goers and advance season pass sales, the Memorial Day weekend is when DEM recreational areas go into high gear.
Scarborough North, Scarborough South, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Roger Wheeler, Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, and Misquamicut state beaches will be open daily, weather permitting, beginning this Saturday, May 25. Other facilities open on a daily basis, weather permitting, beginning on May 25 through Labor Day include the beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, Burlingame Picnic Area and Campground, Pulaski Park, George Washington Campground and Fort Adams State Park.
"Getting our recreational facilities up and running for Memorial Day has been a top priority at DEM, and for the millions of folks who use them during the warm weather," said DEM Director Janet Coit.
Over the past several months, major repairs have been completed at Misquamicut, East Beach, Roger Wheeler, and East Matunuck state beaches to address damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Beginning this weekend, a host of new and renovated facilities will greet the public when they visit state beaches. They include new entrance booths, fencing and roofs at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett; new walkways and planters at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett; new railings, walkways and benches at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown; and new dunes, railings, walkways and benches at East Beach in Charlestown. At Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, which sustained the most hurricane damage, patrons will enjoy new dunes, roofs, entrance ramps, and a new playground that will be installed on May 28.
Director Coit praised the collaborative efforts of DEM parks & recreation staff and the dozens of temporary workers hired through a Department of Labor and Training grant for their dedicated efforts to repair damages to state beaches, parks and campgrounds from Hurricane Sandy and bring them back to good condition for the enjoyment of all. "Throughout the winter and spring, our team pressed forward with vigor and determination to repair damages from Hurricane Sandy. Their dedicated efforts will benefit beach, park and campground patrons and Rhode Island's tourist economy this summer."
Approximately one million people visit the seven state beaches in South County and close to 100,000 people visit state campgrounds annually. "Rhode Island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast and magnificent camping facilities. Our state beaches and campgrounds are among the state's major tourist attractions and generate millions of dollars for the local and state economy every year," Director Coit said.
The daily beach parking fee for Rhode Island residents is $10 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. The non-resident beach parking fee is $20 on weekdays and $28 on weekends and holidays. The fee for a season pass is $60 for Rhode Island residents and $120 for non-residents.
Resident senior citizens aged 65 and older will continue to enjoy half-price rates on daily beach parking fees at $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. The senior beach parking fee for non-residents is $10 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. Season passes are $30 for resident seniors and $60 for non-resident seniors.
Season passes will be available for purchase at all saltwater state beaches in South County, weather permitting. Season passes will not be sold at the RI State Parks Office in Johnston.
Parking fees are based solely upon the registration (i.e., license plate) of each car entering the beach facilities. All RI-registered vehicles will be subject to resident rates for parking (daily and seasonal); all other vehicles without Rhode Island plates will be subject to the non-resident rates (daily and seasonal). The regulations define vehicle as any street legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over the road travel.
The Department is asking for the participation of all beach-goers in the voluntary program to help keep our beaches smoke-free, clean, healthy, and safe. Cigarettes are the number one source of litter on beaches. They can also sicken children and wildlife that may ingest butts left in the sand, thinking they are food. And a still-smoldering butt can cause a burn, if stepped on with bare feet.
DEM maintains a "carry-in carry-out" policy at all state parks and beaches, which is made simple for visitors through the availability of small "Keep RI Clean" trash bags that are handed out at entrance booths at most facilities; in day-use parks without entrance booths, the bags are available at rest rooms, dispenser boxes, and offices. Staff hand out 300,000 to 400,000 bags each year through this program.
Visitors are also reminded that for reasons of public health, no animals are allowed on any state bathing beach between April 1 and September 30. This includes after-hours.
DEM is still accepting applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry level and senior lifeguard positions are available. Lifeguard positions all require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving. Information about DEM and all lifeguard and seasonal positions, as well as a downloadable application form, is available online at DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov. Applications should be filled out completely. Applicants can also visit or call DEM's Office of Human Resources at 235 Promenade Street, Room 350, Providence, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or call 222-2775, ext. 4602.
Using equipment purchased for DEM by the Governor's Commission on Disabilities, DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation will continue to issue photo identification passes for people who are eligible under certain disability rules for free parking at state beaches. Fees will be waived for any vehicle in which a driver or passenger shows the photo ID. The photo identification pass will also allow disabled patrons to have the greens fee waived when playing golf at Goddard Memorial State Park, although they will be charged for equipment rentals, if any.
Anyone receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is eligible, as is anyone receiving Veterans Benefits who is 100 percent disabled through a service-connected disability. Eligible individuals under age 65 must apply for a pass on an annual basis, while those 65 and over are eligible for a lifetime pass. Specific documentation is necessary to receive the ID.