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Selectmen examine limiting Leavitt Beach parking to residents

March 03, 2021
MEREDITH The selectmen are taking a few steps closer to restricting parking at Leavitt Beach to residents only during the peak summer months, aiming for a public hearing in April.

Leavitt Beach was getting a surge of use last summer which prompted selectmen to look into making the park residents only. While Waukewan Beach has to remain open to the public because it receives federal funding, Leavitt can be designated for residents only.

Town manager Phil Warren told the selectmen during Monday's workshop that he spoke with department heads and there was a general sense that the crowds at Leavitt Beach were an anomaly due to the pandemic. While the large amount of people on the beach would usually warrant changes, department heads generally cautioned against making decisions based on an anomalous occurrence that would make a big change from how the town usually does things. The majority of Meredith's facilities are open to the public with the boat ramps and transfer station the only exceptions.

The department heads did make some recommendations of the town does move forward with this. Warren said the best approach would be to limit parking in the Leavitt Park lot to residents only and have a staff member at the lot designated to checking for stickers. There was a sense from the department heads that if the town should require a solid waste sticker as opposed to a pass process, which could create more problems.

Warren said if the selectmen wanted him to move forward with this it would require a change to the ordinance with a public hearing.

Parking along that road is already prohibited and Warren said it would mean extra parking enforcement. People who do have homes or rentals along Patrician and Veasey Shores or anywhere else in the area could still walk to the beach.

Selectman Mike Pelczar said he supports taking some measures at Leavitt Beach.

"I know it's going to be tough, I know maybe this isn't the year to enact it," Pelczar said. "Maybe we should do some public hearing, but I think its something we should try to get right and do for the residents of our town."

He said this past summer might have been an anomaly, but some extra measures might stop overuse of that beach.

Selectman Jonathan James said there were some travel websites that recommended people staying in the area use Leavitt Beach since Center Harbor's town beach was for residents only. Board chair Ray Moritz said another factor might have been Laconia's strict capacity limits on Weirs Beach.

Selectman Nate Torr also asked about possibly limiting the area to residents during peak times during the summer, especially July through the first two weeks of August, as a trial. Pelczar said that could be a start and if it doesn't work, they can act accordingly. Warren said he would recommend putting that in place from July through Labor Day. He said if things didn't work out, changes to the ordinance could be reversed with another public hearing.

Warren said he could present a draft ordinance change to the selectmen at the March 15 meeting, which would give plenty of time to schedule and advertise a hearing for April 19.

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