Editorial: South Lake management as smooth as the road itself

Posted 3/26/21

Management of scenic South Lake Drive in Barrington has been as bumpy as the road itself. Three months ago, Town Manager Jim Cunha announced he would be closing the road to vehicular traffic. He …

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Editorial: South Lake management as smooth as the road itself

Posted

Management of scenic South Lake Drive in Barrington has been as bumpy as the road itself. Three months ago, Town Manager Jim Cunha announced he would be closing the road to vehicular traffic. He cited illegal dumping and teen drinking as the primary reasons; the bad condition of the road was a factor as well.

Nothing happened until earlier this month, when the town set up barriers on the roadway. One set was placed about a quarter-mile in from Washington Road, just past a tiny pull-off area at the start to a wooded trail. The other was placed a short distance from North Lake Drive, also near what might be considered a small parking area beside Echo Pond.

A trip to South Lake Drive Tuesday morning showed the results of the town’s scheme. At the entrance to the road, off of Washington Road, there were no signs — nothing to say the road was closed, nothing to indicate whether it is still one-way (is it?), nothing to say anything whatsoever.

There were two trucks and two cars parked at the trail entrance, clogging the supposed parking and turnaround area. A visitor unaware the road was closed had two choices: execute a tight, five-point turn, while trying not to hit the rail fence beside the Rhode Island Country Club golf course and then drive the wrong-way (is it the wrong way?) back the narrow stretch to Washington, or reverse all the way back down the hill and past the potholes.

A visitor to the other end of South Lake Drive might find similar confusion. Having known South Lake Drive to be a one-way street for the entirety of their lifetime, they might wonder if it’s now ok to drive the wrong way (is it?) to park and fish, as others seem to be doing. Again, there are no signs indicating anything.

It’s also noteworthy that at a recent council meeting, all the South Lake talk was about the condition of the road, not vandalism or teen drinking. Suddenly the condition of the road was considered so bad, it must be closed.

Lastly, when the manager first talked about this months ago, it was believed that the country club owns the road. Now it seems the town owns the road.

Anyone sensing a pattern here? There’s confusion at both ends (of the road and the process), and it’s clear there is no long-term plan for South Lake, just a series of seemingly knee-jerk actions.

All of these are small complaints, hardly worth this space, if not for the fact that in a community this small, the small stuff actually matters.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.