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Selectmen address concerns related to Brewster Beach


April 28, 2021
WOLFEBORO — Clark Road resident Patty Monaghan spoke with some urgency to the Board of Selectmen on April 14 about problems at Brewster Beach last summer.

Her stated concern pertained to alleged drug and alcohol use, a lack of respect for fellow beachgoers, public urination, intolerably loud music, and accumulations of trash. The purpose of her visit to the Great Hall was to urge the board to form a committee, as recommended with passage of the amended Article # 35, without delay.

Monaghan indicated that she was afraid Brewster Academy would once again decide to close the beach, which it leases to the town, in August (which she attributed to being a result of the aforementioned events), further exacerbating current restraints on town beach admission.

In fact, Brewster Academy Head of School Craig Gemmell has indicated the academy's desire to review the lease set up in 2007 in a letter to the board to discuss closing Brewster Beach for academy use only, for one to two weeks at the end of each summer to "support Orientation programing for our students at the start of the school year." Last year, the school closed the beach in August, with an explanation to the public in the Granite State News, that it was closing its entire campus to the public in order to manage Covid-19 protocols.

Monaghan said parking was a problem last year as detailed in the original warrant article along with the suggested solution of standardizing beach regulations. And she said she would like to know the concerns of businesses as to changes to the beach policies to "resident only." To clarify, attendance at Carry and Albee Beaches is regulated through a system of beach passes, obtained through the Department of Parks and Recreation, for access to the parking lots. Those passes may be used by residents, their guests and family members, renters, and guests of motels, inns and campgrounds. In the case of Albee Beach, cyclists and pedestrians can access the beach by the Cotton Valley Trail, without need of a pass.

She also mentioned that people on Jet Skis were coming within ten feet of the roped swimming area.

Murray said she welcomed the feedback and said the town has "done some problem solving," including the installation of no parking signs along Clark Road and conversations with Marine Patrol about motorcraft coming too close to shore. Chistine Collins, Director of the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department, plans to extend the hours for parking attendants and address issues of waste removal. The police department will be a full staff this summer and also can include bike patrol.

A request from Gemmell for surveillance cameras will be considered along with correction of GPS coordinates on the town website that will now direct visitors to the beach entrance instead of the campus entrance.

Town Manager Jim Pineo added that there will be an internet line for Central Dispatch monitoring.

Collins said she wants her staff to be comfortable communicating with the police and urges beach goers also to report troublesome activity to the police. There will also be additional signage on the beach.

Murray said she remains committed to holding a forum to hear all the issues from the public, not just a group of committee members, before forming a committee to respond to concerns from the public. A July date will allow time to get the beaches open with solutions in place to see how they are working.

Selectman Brad Harriman agreed that there would be more representation in July, commenting "We want to take time for proper solutions. We want to get it right the first time."

In public comment time, Nate Drouin, owner of the Jet Ski company, addressed the board to review steps his company has taken to improve safety. He explained that Marine Patrol was underfunded last year, so his company purchased two patrol boats. Also, said Drouin, 85 percent of renters had to take a course to obtain a license to operate the jet skis, which are clearly marked to show that they are rentals.

Bobbi Boudman said would rather have had a committee formed soon after the vote to make the decisions rather than having the staff address the issues. Suzanne Ryan disagreed. In her opinion, "The staff is doing a yeoman's job in protecting the town assets."

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