Clean the Bay removes unsightly debris from local beach       

Warwick Beacon Online

Thursday, July 26, 2007 




Summertime in the Ocean State is reserved for the beaches. But when the shorelines closest to home are filled with garbage and debris, it’s no wonder Warwick residents often pack up their sunscreen and towels and travel to “distant” sandy spots in Matunuck and Narragansett.



Thanks to some local volunteers, however, these summer migration patterns may soon be changing.



Clean the Bay, a nonprofit volunteer organization, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Management, has put together Project Cleansweep, a collaborative project whose mission is to remove all small and large debris from the Narragansett Bay shorelines.



Yesterday the volunteers headed out onto the rocky beach at Brush Neck Cove to remove large chunks of unsightly asphalt from the beach.



When the coast was hit in 1954 by Hurricane Carol, the beach was eroded and destroyed. As part of the state’s efforts to restore the beach, asphalt was put under the surface of the sand and then covered with fill and dune grasses. Over the years, erosion and storms have caused the asphalt to resurface and break into large chunks that have covered the beach for many years.



 “Aesthetically it looked horrible,” said Steve Insana, a volunteer at yesterday’s cleanup and president of the Buckeye Brook Association. Thankfully, he said, through cleanup projects like this, the coast can be rejuvenated. “People like to come to this area, especially local people.”



With the debris cleared, he added, the area will provide a safer and more beautiful summer attraction.



Among the crumbling and unsightly black boulders were other hazards as well. Metal bases of old signs and jagged wooden remnants of the trolley system that ran on the beach from 1865 to 1946 shot at skewed angles out of the sand. Some of these dangers were noticeable from afar, but some were so short they were barely visible; others were so close to the water they would get covered at high tide.



Insana explained their next goal is to get the posts sawed down or removed. In the case of those that cannot be removed, such as some of the old components of the trolley system, a fence could be put up to keep beach-goers away.



As Insana pointed out the wooden remnants of the trolley tracks that were to be fenced in, Guy Lefebvre, president of the Conimicut Village Association and site volunteer, chimed in, talking about the trolley’s old route.



“This place has a lot of history,” he said, “[It’s] a nice site I like to come to. Brush Neck cove is very appealing.”



Lefebvre did say, however, that the asphalt chunks made the cove less than perfect.



“[The debris] has been an eyesore,” he said, “and the asphalt contains a petroleum derivative, too.”



Once the debris is removed, the organization is confident that the beach will remain cleaner.



“It’s going to stay this way for a long time,” said Insana, who explained that this site was unique in that they didn’t pick up garbage and litter that could be blown back in a few days.



Councilwoman Donna Travis was there as a volunteer and said she hopes to make the beach an even better spot in the future. Travis said she wants to get signage for the beach discouraging littering and telling visitors to stay off the dune grasses. As to when the signs will go up, Travis says it depends. Those signs that can go up immediately will, and the others that have to be approved by the Department of Parks and Recreations will be installed as soon as possible.



“After this I’m going to hit the Department of Parks and Recreations,” she said.



Clean the Bay will be handing out informational materials at the National Night Out celebration, to be held Aug. 7 at Oakland Beach.



“We hope to educate the public about Clean the Bay,” said Travis, who also wants to promote volunteer work to keep the beaches clean.



At yesterday’s cleanup there were about 15 volunteers who had managed to almost completely clear the beach of the asphalt rocks in about an hour. The cleanup started at 10 a.m. and the volunteers planned on working until 1 p.m.



Insana, Travis and Lefebvre have all volunteered multiple times at many different locations across the state.



“This is a collaboration of nonprofit groups in the community,” said Insana. “This is our home, we grew up here and we’re not going anywhere.”



To volunteer for Clean the Bay, contact volunteer coordinator Vanessa Venturini at , or by calling 222-3434. For more information on Clean the Bay, visit .