WINCHESTER - Summer is coming and that means families will head to the beach. One local beach that could get crowded this year is Shannon Beach in downtown Winchester. Last year, so many people showed up it lead to an overflow of cars parking in residential neighborhoods.
Police Chief Dan O’Connell said he received a number of complaints last year, so he instituted a temporary parking ban. He said it worked a little bit last year so the Select Board directed him to install “no beach parking” or “resident only” signs on Lakeview Road, Ravencroft Road, Ginn Road, and other streets as necessary.
Residents spoke out in favor of either “no beach parking” or “resident only” signs. Shannon Beach gets crowded if nearby beaches like Revere Beach are closed. The overcrowding can lead to issues like beachgoers parking in residential neighborhoods; it can also lead to incidents like drowning which happened twice last year.
This season, O’Connell said the Department of Conservation and Recreation said there would be lifeguards at the beach. He also said DCR would put out notifications regarding where people can and can’t park. The chief added he would work with both Medford Police and the state police. (Shannon Beach is under the state’s jurisdiction.)
Two residents, Carole Savage and I-ching Scott, reached out to the town’s local delegates. Savage said she received an email from State Senator Patricia Jehlen’s office regarding policies at the beach. She anticipates it will be an ongoing challenge.
Therefore, she suggested the town repeat what it did last year and hope DCR installs signage alerting people where to park. She thinks that plus the town putting up “no beach parking” signs should do the trick (she didn’t favor “resident only” signs believing they made the neighborhood seem unwelcoming).
Scott called the reason for overcrowding a “confluence of many things” including last summer’s heatwave, construction on Bacon Street and the ending of COVID-19.
“Let’s set the tone this year,” Scott proposed with Savage adding the town “should learn from this summer and communicate at the end.”
Select Board Chair Rich Mucci asked the police chief if there’s a difference between “no beach parking” and “resident only” signs and if one was easier to enforce. O’Connell said “resident only” signs are simply what Medford used.
A resident of Ginn Road, Bob Stevens asked the chief to include his area in any mitigation plans to which the chief said he would. Another Ginn Road resident, Robert Mancini said “resident only” signs would work on his street, feeling people would take those signs more seriously than “no beach parking.” He also asked the town to consider resident placards that neighbors could give to visiting friends and family.
Town Manager Beth Rudolph proposed handing out visitor passes instead.
Roland Anderson asked the board and the chief why the town doesn’t use permanent signage. Mucci said the goal is to grab people’s attention and that residents might not necessarily want that signage year-round.
Select Board member Michael Bettencourt called it an “evolving process,” suggesting enforcement would be important.
“We’re going to address the overcrowding, as no one wants loss of life,” Mucci stressed, referring to the two drownings that took place last summer.
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