Gatekeeper will man Belmont Beach entrance
July 21, 2010
BELMONT — A new ordinance will allow Belmont residents to bring guests to the town beach, though the Recreation Department is in the process of hiring a volunteer gatekeeper to keep out non-residents who aren't accompanied by residents.
At its last meeting the Board of Selectmen discussed several beach-related issues, including a new ordinance proposed by Police Chief Vinnie Baiocchetti that will allow outsiders to use the beach when accompanied by a resident or taxpayer. The previous ordinance did not allow for non-residents at all.
In order to access the beach, residents and taxpayers are supposed to have stickers permanently affixed to their car windows and prominently displayed. The stickers are available at Town Hall.
One of the questions that has arisen since the stickers were created is who is responsible for enforcing them. Board Chair Ron Cormier said he had met with Recreation Director Janet Breton and Baiocchetti recently to discuss complaints the police department has been getting.
"We had discussed as a board last year going to the stickers because of problems at the beach with nonresidents," Cormier said. "Here we are and its beach season and lo and behold we have non residents with no stickers at the beach."
Cormier said the police department has been getting numerous calls from beach staff regarding non-residents trying to get into the beach.
"The intent was to ferret out who was not a resident, not to ticket them," Cormier said. "We don't have adequate resources to have police officers ticketing 30 cars a day."
Breton said people have been complaining about non-residents using the beach, particularly on weekends, and the parking lot has been full of out-of-state cars.
Selectman Jon Pike said he'd staked out the beach parking lot during the week and didn't see any overcrowding problems.
"During the week I don't think we've got a big problem," he said, though he admitted that the weather is likely drawing larger crowds on weekends. "We've got the hottest summer in the world."
Breton proposed hiring a gatekeeper from 9 a.m. until mid-afternoon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to ensure that cars without stickers don't get into the beach parking lot.
Pike asked what would happen when a person with no sticker says no to the gatekeeper and drives right through.
"Then we arrest him," Baiocchetti said. "That's trespass … we can address that and we will."
The board discussed whether funds for the gatekeeper position could be found in the Recreation Department budget. Breton said it was possible but that she was looking into finding one or two volunteers through a local community service organization.
"If you can find someone to do it for free, I don't think any of us are going to stop you," Cormier said.
As of Monday, Breton was in the process of coordinating volunteers and expected to have a gatekeeper in place soon.
Cormier also suggested that Breton instruct her employees to "use some common sense" when dealing with people with non-stickered vehicles.
"If they can prove they're a resident, they can stay at the beach," he said.
If it's a Tuesday, the gatekeeper should instruct the resident to drive to Town Hall to pick up a sticker. If it's a weekend day, they can check licenses or car registrations.
"Don't call police for sticker issues," Cormier said.
Breton said another problem cropping up from the sticker requirement is that employees aren't necessarily residents, and they don't use the same car every time they drive to work.
"We've handed out a lot of stickers to non-residents because they're employed there and parents have four cars," Breton said.
Cormier suggested that Breton create designated staff parking spots.
The beach opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Employees leave at 5 or 5:15 p.m.