NARRAGANSETT – Although repairs related to Hurricane Sandy are still ongoing, town officials estimate that about two dozen cabanas will be unavailable to start the beach season, and alternate plans have been made.
In a 4-0 vote Monday night, the town council approved a plan from the Parks and Recreation Department to offer an alternate option for the displaced cabana owners.
The owners of lower cabana units from 31A to 42B would be allowed to “renew” their plan at the cost of $500 this year, down from $1,750. However, the cabanas are not expected to be ready.
Instead, the owners would essentially retain their benefits, sans the cabana – six vehicles on an access list, six beach passes and two transferable parking passes. One numbered parking space in the cabana lot would also be available.
Steve Wright, the town’s Parks and Recreation Director, said that the cabanas most likely could not be reconstructed in time for the summer, hence the alternate plan.
“It’s highly unlikely that we’re going to be able to design, permit and replace the 24 cabanas for the 2013 beach season,” he said.
The downgrade represents a loss of about $30,000 in fees for the beach fund.
Councilors and Wright stressed multiple times that the repair costs of the cabanas were covered mostly by federal funds, insurance and the beach fund, and would not affect the town’s budget.
Resident Stanley Wojciechowski asked the council to consider raising the fee even if the cabana access wasn’t provided.
“I think people using the lot or the cabanas should pay for the rebuilding,” he said. “I think to make sure we’re covered, we should triple it to $1,500 per space.”
However, the council did not adopt his suggestion.
Speaking of the Beach…
Councilors also spoke with Wright and residents for about 10 minutes about the issue of benches at various town facilities.
Wright said the issue was finding a proper balance between the various materials.
“If you put anything metal down there, it corrodes with the salt water,” he said. “Other beach benches, which were donated, are heavy, cost $1,400 each and have to be bolted in.”
Wright’s proposal called for a backless bench, in order to mitigate future damage to new benches. He noted that the damage to benches destroyed by Sandy was covered by insurance, and would be replaced without cost to the town up to a cost of about $1,897 per bench.
However, councilor Douglas McLaughlin, echoing comments from other members, said he had gotten a lot of feedback requesting benches that had backs, as opposed to a locker room-style backless bench.
He also asked that the town pursue benches that have an option for removal in case of bad weather.
“We need to take a look at benches that can be removed in the face of a storm,” he said. “I don’t think you can prevent every scenario from happening, whether it’s theft or damage.”
The council voted 4-0 to continue discussion on the benches once Wright came back with more information on removable options.