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Beach Maintenance Takes a Dive

The beaches won't be maintained as frequently in the coming year. The Representative Town Meeting voted twice against returning funds to the Parks and Recreation budget that would have allowed beach raking to remain at three or more times a week.

“You can't give me less resources and expect me to do the same amount of work,” said Parks and Recreation Stuart McCarthy. The board voted to deny a restoration request of $62,300, most of which would have paid for an administrative staff position to help free up maintenance workers.

Budget cuts over the last few years have dropped McCarthy's staff from 12 to nine employees. He told the RTM that even with the restoration for the administrative position, it was unlikely he had the maintenance staff to maintain the beach raking schedule. With no restoration, beach maintenance falls behind trash cleanup and beach supervision on his priority list. McCarthy also flagged the Levitt Pavilion and the senior center as areas that will see a decline in services from the Parks and Recreation Department.

A second vote was pursued for $38,000 just to maintain the beach raking schedule. It also failed to get the 70 percent of votes needed to succeed. Proponents of maintaining the raking schedule noted that those who have already bought beach passes would expect the service. It was also noted that a reduction in beach quality could impact revenue as out-of-town visitors would be less likely to pay the $40 a day parking fee.

Compared to the other duties of his department, McCarthy said the old level of beach maintenance was a luxury that locals were going to have to live without. Beach raking will still happen at least once a week. “We’re talking about running the beach rake, that is something we consider a luxury,” said McCarthy, adding, “What the beach cleaner does many times is just make the beach look nice for about two hours before people trample on it.”

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