NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The Narragansett Town Council dealt with a perennial summer issue — parking — on Monday, enacting changes to three local roads after residents complained about congestion along their streets.
“As everybody knows, parking is always an issue in Narragansett in the summer,” Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan said. “And with COVID-19 it’s especially so this year, and they’ve been feeling the impact in Jerusalem.”
The first change the council unanimously passed 4-0 (Council President Matthew Mannix was absent) prohibits parking along narrow Foster Road, along its entire south side, and on the north side from Arbeth Road to Champlin Avenue.
Resident parking would be allowed by permit on the north side from Arbeth Road to the dead-end of Foster Road to the west.
A petition with the names of dozens of residents mostly from the Foster Road, Arbeth Road and Champlin Avenue areas made its way to Town Hall. The residents wanted the town to put up “no parking” signs along the road.
The complaint went to the Traffic Safety Workgroup, which includes police and public works representatives.
Council Member Jesse Pugh also received resident complaints.
“Generally, I’m for as much parking as possible for residents and visitors,” Pugh said. But, he said, he understood the issue when he went to Foster Road and encountered a car coming the opposite way.
“As I was turning, I basically couldn’t drive past the car coming the opposite way. And there were no cars parked along the road,” he said. When cars park along the road “it becomes a single-lane road,” Pugh said. “There’s no way a fire truck could get through there.”
Councilor Rick Lema, who has used a nearby marina for his boat, agreed.
“Those areas years ago were basically beach sand roads for one vehicle to get by,” he said. “It becomes a public safety hazard where you need to get in there and can’t.”
Councilor Patrick Murray said the town is taking away too much parking without providing alternatives.
“It seems like every other month we’re restricting parking and restricting access to our natural beauty and shoreline,” he said. “We just can’t keep rolling out the unwelcome mat. But I know that area and can see that it is an issue.”
Champlin Avenue resident Kimberly Bouthiette said a rescue truck was called out to her street on July 4.
“Looking at those vehicles, they were never going to make it down Foster to get to Arbeth if that was the case. I think since Memorial Day weekend, we’ve had cars full on that side.”
Her two children are unable to ride bikes or play because of the traffic at the dead-end area, where cars often turn around at Foster and Champlin, she said.
The second change, passed on a 3-1 vote, is designed to alleviate parking congestion on Hazard Avenue, Corrigan said.
It prohibits parking along the road’s southern side. On the northerly side, there’s no parking from the Ocean Road intersection for 335 feet east. Then, angled parking is allowed after the 335-foot mark. The spots will be designated by painted white lines.
People had been creating “additional parking spaces for themselves” along a part of the road, and the change formalizes the designated parking area, Corrigan said.
“It’s a problem with the traffic safety issues down there,” he said.
Murray again opposed the removal of parking spaces, and voted against it. People were apt to park along the prohibited area anyway, he said.
The third modification involved fixing an issue on Othmar Street in which a pair of ordinances, from 1981 and 1986, would be repealed in order to remove a small tow-away zone on the street’s southerly side. A few residents have complained that because of the restriction, they can’t park in front of their homes. The council passed it, 4-0.
Parking is allowed along the rest of Othmar Street by seasonal residential permit.
“I’m all for helping these residents out,” Lema said. “Othmar Street is very close to the beach. Cars from out of town with GPS systems know all the streets of the town and where the no-parking signs are, and they know it’s a $35 ticket. For some people on vacation, they don’t care. They’re going to park and go to the beach.”
He suggested the town address increasing parking tickets to deter parking in prohibited areas, especially neighborhoods.
“My officers have reported back the same thing that you’re saying,” Corrigan said. “They’ve had people comment that it’s worth it having to pay $35.”
Also Monday, the council approved an Artisan Fair that will take place Sunday at the town’s Gazebo Park.
It’s sponsored by Narragansett Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Mike Bryce Studio and the Providence Artisans Market.
The event came about when the annual art show traditionally held in June was canceled because of COVID-19.
A COVID-19 plan will be implemented based upon regulations in effect at the time of the show. Twenty-five to 35 artists will display with tables or tents that are 10 feet apart at a minimum.
All will wear masks and signage will remind visitors to wear masks as well.
“We’ll have two lines of tents facing each other, so the backs of the tents will be facing the road to not have people come into the art fair from outside,” chamber manager Peg Fredette, said. “There will be one entrance and one exit. We will have physical counters to watch how many people are in the ‘corridor,’ or runway.”
Attendees will have to wear masks, and will be given a provided mask if they “forgot” their own, Fredette said. Hand sanitizer stations also will be in place.
“We also will have people monitoring any ‘clusters’ of people in front of artists. We’re trying to think of all the possible scenarios that could happen and mitigate those with a plan.”
Vendor vehicles will be allowed to unload and load at each site, but must be removed from the property for the duration of the show. Organizers also must provide a $1 million certificate of liability insurance.
The chamber is unable to make any revenue this year due to the cancellation of events. Revenue is used for operational budgets and part-time staff.