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City May Allow Overnight RV Parking Along Beach

December 11, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

 

Bird's eye view of Easton's Beach in Newport, R.I.

Bird's eye view of Easton's Beach in Newport, R.I.

Nine months after it was shelved in the face of public opposition, a plan to institute paid overnight RV parking at Easton’s Beach in Newport, R.I., may soon receive another hearing before the Newport Beach Commission.

The city’s economic development office has dusted off a proposal shelved this past winter which would allow limited overnight RV parking at Easton’s Beach. Economic Development Director Jonathan Stevens said Dec. 4 that the program could generate as much as $46,500 per year.

The plan was expected to be presented to the commission on Tuesday night (Dec. 8). However, the commission failed to meet a quorum; chairman Herb Armstrong said he expects the proposal will be taken up at the commission’s next meeting in January, according to EastBayRI.com.

“Frankly I think it’s an idea that never got a full discussion because of the firestorm that was created last time,” Armstrong said. “I have reservations about it. But in my way of thinking it’s a low-risk approach (to generating revenue). If it doesn’t work out you can cancel it virtually overnight.”

“We still believe in this idea,” added Stevens. “We’ve been given the responsibility to increase our revenue. We thought it would be wise to come back and at least vet it.”

The plan received beach commission approval, albeit via a split vote, in February. Commission members, though expressing concerns about the program, voted 3 to 2 to endorse it on a one-year trial basis. At the time, Armstrong wrote, the commission had “reservations … primarily surrounding unresolved issues of security, control and regulation, and esthetics.”

“However, the commission recognizes the necessity of developing new revenue sources,” he added.

The plan was ultimately shelved after some residents, including some city council members, said they were opposed.

“I don’t want to see it,” Councilor Kathryn Leonard said at the time. “I think this takes away from the beach, from the city itself.”

The most recent incarnation of the plan wouldn’t change from that reviewed nine months ago, said Stevens.

Under it, limited RV parking access would be allowed on weekdays in June, July and August and seven days a week in May and October. RVs would be charged between $40 and $45 per night to park at the beach, depending on the month. In all, 20 spaces along the seawall in the beach’s east lot would be allotted to RVs.

Under the plan, only vehicles defined as RVs by the state Department of Health’s licensing rules would be allowed. Those include “independent or self-contained” vehicles that don’t require external sewer, water or electric connections.

Though Stevens estimated the program could raise more than $60,000 per year, about a quarter of that would be spent on hiring additional staff to oversee the program.

The city would also likely retain ReserveAmerica to handle reservations for it.

As for aesthetics, Stevens said, “in the great scheme of things, it’s a parking lot.”

“For those who are concerned about the visual impact, go down there,” he said. “It’s basically a huge asphalt area that’s filled with cars in the summer.”

The only difference? If the plans go through, the cars will be replaced by RVs paying a premium to set up in by the beach for a day or two.

“At the end of the day, if it doesn’t (fly) at least we tried and considered it,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt to try.”

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