SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Roy Carpenter’s Beach summer community may open this summer, but with new coronavirus-related restrictions and a review process for each cottage’s indoor septic disposal for environmental safety.
Long-standing septic issues dovetailed this year with coronavirus-related restrictions to shut down the 380-cottage site that draws tenants from around Rhode Island as well as out of state to these summer-only cottages without foundations or heating systems.
Many also lack flushing toilets and instead alternative disposal methods have developed over the years. With coronavirus-led scrutiny on sanitary measures, the disposal methods came into as sharp focus as social distancing as these cottages that hug each other in rows by the beach.
“My objective is to get people there for Memorial Day,” said Robert Zarnetske, South Kingstown town manager who has handled at least one complaint about summer use of the cottages and wants to assist others as well.
Right now, the hold up for occupying the cottages is the town review of the alternative septic disposals currently in place in each cottage, he said. The process, which he expects to be in place this week, involves each homeowner sending to town officials a description of the process and photo of the toilet.
He said that making the filing with town hall could be enough to allow owners to occupy the cottages.
Matunuck Beach Properties owns Roy Carpenter’s Beach community, which comprises about 50 acres along Cards Pond Road. The land and business is owned by Nancy Thoresen, granddaughter of Roy Carpenter, along with her children, Rob and Christa Sisson.
They are working with town and state officials to re-open the community according to new safety standards, Zarnetske said.
Christa Sisson said her family hopes to open the community by Memorial Day weekend and will notify homeowners about the sanitary filing before the holiday.
The family sent an email to homeowners May 15 telling them about the new septic review process and that “unfortunately, cottages that cannot be verified to be self-sustaining by the town will not be certified for overnight stays.”
It also said that the community remained closed and that only visits to cottages by homeowners or contractors to maintain the property were allowed.
The email listed the following changes and restrictions homeowners can expect this year:
Social distancing rules will continue to remain in effect.
14-day self-quarantine rules for out-of-state residents remain in effect through June 8.
No congregating in groups of five or more residents through June 8.
Cloth face coverings which cover the mouth and nose should be worn when in public.
Public bathrooms will remain closed, including the water faucets. Residents staying in their cottages will need to provide their own potable water. Those who are coming from out of state should plan to bring enough water to use during the 14-day self-quarantine.
Only cottage owners and their immediate family members with whom they live at their current or permanent residence will be allowed on the premises. No guests will be allowed, possibly for the entire summer season.
Masks need to be on when pulling up to the guard shack and those without a mask will be turned away. Masks must be kept on at all times when outside homes on the community property.
The beach is currently closed and lifeguards are not be on duty now, but the beach may open when nearby town and state beaches resume operations.
Lisa Manning, a cottage owner, complained to the South Kingstown Town Council recently that the community should be opened to its residents so that they get the full use of the property.
She’s also not very happy with the Matunuck Beach Properties overall list of restrictions, especially the public bathrooms
“That’s ridiculous. We’re all adults. The public bathrooms have five stalls. We can follow social distancing. I don’t get it. It’s so silly that there’s a problem with opening the bathrooms,” she said.
However, Matunuck Beach Properties, in its email to homeowners, emphasized its safety precautions.
“At this point we are encouraged by any movement towards opening, and we will continue to work toward doing so with the safety of our cottage owners and employees in mind,” the email said.