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Residents Disagree on Building New Third Beach Boat Ramp

Some worry about what a new boat ramp would do to Third Beach, while others would love to see it happen.

Dozens of Middletown residents turned out at Monday night's Middletown Town Council meeting to speak out or listen to the proposal to replace the Third Beach boat ramp.

The council ultimately voted to order further study of the proposal. Here's an overview of what some residents had to say:

Opponents or Concerns

“We have no money to fund this. None,” Indian Avenue resident Carol Cummings told the council and Brown. She agreed the aging boat ramp is in need of replacement, but called the proposed 200-foot pier with a wheelchair accessible walkway and wastewater dump station “inappropriate” for Third Beach due to its rural and natural state.

Easton's Point Association President Sarah Gill was concerned about an increased flow of boat launch traffic, leading to more boats idling and polluting the water. Gill also did not like the idea of a dump station holding tank in the parking lot.

“How large will this tank be in the parking lot? That’s really attractive,” Gill told the council.

She also discouraged the town from trying to cater to a small population of boaters over the needs of families and local beach visitors.

Others who spoke questioned whether Middletown would be at the mercy of strict Department of Environmental Managed (DEM) and other Rhode Island state guidelines for running the Third Beach ramp and parking lot, should the town accept the state's 75 percent match federal grant.

They worried about increased power boat traffic disrupting the natural state of Third Beach, which attracts kayakers, mainly family sunbathers and swimmers, stand-up paddleboarders and wind-powered vessels.

Supporters

Others such as boating enthusiasts urged the town to consider accepting the grant.

Middletown resident Jason Goldfarb, an avid sailor and sport fisherman with a 27-foot center console powerboat, after the meeting described how he travels up and down the east coast as far south as Florida and has no trouble launching his motorized boat everywhere else.

“Ironically, the only place I can’t launch my boat is a half-mile from my own house. It’s the worst boat ramp I’ve ever seen,” Goldfarb said.

A certified marine sanitation specialist, Goldfarb also defended the proposal to install a dump station. "Otherwise, if they can't dump it at the ramp, where do you think they'll dump it?" he asked the council.

Middletown boater Mitch Thurman, now in his 40s, said he grew up boating and water skiing at Third Beach and has watched the existing boat ramp worsen over the years to the point where it's barely useful.

"I’ve seen people actually dunk their boats into the water and have to get pulled out," Thurman said.

Beach Commission Weighs In

In speaking to residents' concerns, Beach Commission member Bill Seiple informed the council that the commission "made sure we questioned DEM about strings attached and were told that there would be none, because we don't charge to use the ramp, only to park."

Beach Commission Chairman Rian Wilkinson said he didn't anticipate so much opposition to the proposal when the Beach Commission first learned of the grant and proposed it to the council last year, especially after years of talks that the ramp needed replacing.

A former manager at Second Beach and member of the Conservation Commission, Wilkinson assured the council and opponents that the Beach Commission has always worked to help preserve the natural state at Third Beach and they would continue to do so.

Parking spaces at the Third Beach lot for boat launches would not be expanded, he noted, and would remain at 16 spots for towed trailers.

A great portion of the proposed 200-foot pier would mostly traverse the beach before heading into the water and would provide handicapped access from the lot to both the beach and to the boat launch ramp, Wilkinson also noted.

"We're not going to run crazy down there on Third Beach. That’s a misperception," Wilkinson said.

Middletown Resident July 20, 2011 at 09:06 PM
How does bacteria leaching into the water from the other side of 3rd beach have anything to do with the worst boat ramps in RI, please explain? this is what seems insane: a quote from Sara Gill regarding the proposed waste holding tank "How large will this tank be in the parking lot? That’s really attractive" Sara riddle me this, Do you find the existing Port o Johns in the sand dunes at 3rd beach attractive, how about the storage containers next to marsh, they must be, no? or perhaps you like swimming in the waste dumped (illegally) by the moored boats that do not have access to a pump out near 3rd beach. Also what happens when the Middletown harbormaster has an emergency on the water at 2nd or 3rd beach while its low tide and the rescue boat is on its trailer? He is SOL as at some low tides that boat can not get launched safely. If there was a huge hole on west main road DPW would fix it within hours, well... there is a huge issue at the 3rd beach ramp for the past DECADE and it needs to be addressed before someone is hurt at the ramp now due to its condition or someone is not helped because the rescue boat can not get put in the water.
Rhodyapp July 21, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Last summer a man in a wheelchair was observed launching a small sailboat at the ramp by himself, he managed to do it but it wasn't easy. The fact that Middletown has neglected this for so many years is a disgrace. Now they have a grant approved to resurface the ramp and put in a dock to tie up to. Not only will it enhance public safety in the area, but it will also provide an accessible dock for everyone to use, including injured vets and others with disabilities...what is wrong with that?
Len Star July 21, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Fixing the boat ramp and making the area wheelchair accessible is one thing which I think would be great. A 200FT Pier is ridiculous
Middletown Resident July 21, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Len- you need to do some more research, I noted you deleted you original post to this subject??? The 200 ft pier STARTS at the parking lot, so the amount that would extend out into the water at low tide is much less, guessing maybe 75ft?
Tom July 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM
No question about it, we need a new boat ramp. Nothing fancy, just a basic ramp. Why on earth do we need to add handicap ramp access to the boat ramp? Isn't the boatramp already a RAMP? I'm not following the logic on that one. I have to laugh at Sarah Gill's comments on the ramp causing more pollution. Easton's Point Association is a worthless organization. They fight for illegal immigrant fisherman to have free and unobstructed access to Easton's Point so they can leave trash all over the coast of Easton's point. I walked along the Esplanade last summer and it was disgusting to see garbage, used diapers, broken beer bottles, rusty fish hooks, fish guts, etc. all where the illegal immigrants fish. Before anyone gives a penny or any kind of support to Easton's Point Association, tell that worthless group to clean up Easton's Point.
Rhodyapp July 24, 2011 at 02:20 AM
The handicap acces is just the fixed part of the dock that goes along the side of the ramp up to the waterline where it becomes a floating dock. Take a visit to the fort adams ramp to see one, its no big deal, just allows a wheelchair to get onto the dock from the parking lot. Despite the noisy locals who don't want anything in their backyard, I am sure the large majority of Middletowners support providing handicap access to public facilities, not to mention a place for the harbormaster to tie up during the day.
Tom July 24, 2011 at 07:36 AM
A large majority of Middletowners? I don’t know about that. More like the vocal minority of Middletowners want to spend money on gold trim for the ramp. As I already mentioned, we need a new boat ramp. A very basic and fringe free ramp. What you’re describing goes well beyond what is needed. A floating dock for the harbor master to tie up during the day? First, let’s address if we even need a harbor master before we started building floating docks and buy new high speed boats for a service that's completely unnecessary. Handicapped people can already get onto the beach via the wooden paths. Stop the madness in this town. I am one of the large majority of Middletowners who say enough is enough on the crippling taxes in this town. Build a very basic boat ramp. That’s all that’s needed.
Rhodyapp July 25, 2011 at 08:09 PM
From what I heard it is a basic ramp resurface and a dock similar to the fort adams ramp, the only thing different is that they included a pump out connection, that may not be needed.
Sloan August 21, 2011 at 07:54 PM
We need a newer longer ramp because 3rd Beach is filling up with sand. We do not need a dock that will cut the sailing and recreational area in half. The handicap ramp is also the boat ramp. A side ramp placed perpendicular to the main ramp is all you need to allow handicap accessibility to the beach. A pump out station is better located on a floating barge as the do in Newport. That way it can service the boats at anchor. Keep 3rd beach natural. Say no to the dock.
Rhodyapp August 22, 2011 at 09:07 PM
A dock is absolutely needed for safety and to provide access from land to boat. Go try to get on or off a boat witout a dock, you get soaked.
Sloan August 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Then go to Newport where there are plenty of docks. It's not like you have to use 3rd beach. What is good and fine about 3rd Beach will be ruined if a dock is built not to mention the fact that it will get destroyed in a hurricane and have to be rebuilt at, you guessed it, taxpayer expense.

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