NEWBURY — With the unofficial start to summer looming next weekend, some Plum Island residents want to curb parking along the road that accesses a popular beach and warm weather recreation area.
Sunset Drive resident Leanne Eagan predicted the safety conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in her neighborhood will only get worse as summertime traffic swings into full gear.
Last September, Eagan and others raised concerns about hazards created when patrons of Plum Island Grille restaurant parked their cars along the marsh side of the street — they say, significantly narrowing the road and impairing visibility. Eagan informed selectmen last week that she feels the unsafe road conditions persist and constitute “an accident waiting to happen”. She called for temporarily revoking all parking privileges on Sunset Drive until town leaders can come up with a solution to address the safety problem.
But selectmen declined her suggestion, opting instead to wait for an analysis of the parking issues and possible solutions, anticipated from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission in late June or early July.
Eagan said data provided by the Parker River Wildlife Refuge, which is accessed at the end of Sunset Drive, indicates an average of 273 people per day visit the sanctuary, with higher numbers of visitors during the summer months. This traffic, coupled with cars of restaurant patrons parked along the road often make it unsafe for residents of Sunset Drive to walk their dog or ride bikes with their kids along their own street.
“These are people who are paying taxes, who live there,” she reminded selectmen.
But Selectman Michael Bulgaris pointed out that both police Chief Michael Reilly and fire Chief William Pearson signed off on the new parking regulations before they were adopted by selectmen. Public safety officials have assured town leaders that emergency access is not a problem. Bulgaris noted that frequently cars parking along the street in the summer belong to guests of people renting homes there.