The Block Island Times

Editorial: It worked

Jul 06, 2012

It was an uneventful Fourth of July holiday, and while we’ll never know whether it was the media blitz, the (inaccurate) weather forecast or the fact that the big holiday fell on a Wednesday, we should doff our hats to the many people who came together here and across the state to make Block Island’s Independence Day better.

This year, the Rescue Squad didn’t have to make countless trips to the Medical Center or brave dangerous crowds to reach people in distress. There was no Spring Break-like press of drunken revelers on the beach. Families could walk the streets without having to dodge people stumbling drunk. No one fell off a ferry.

It wasn’t that busy in Westerly either, report friends from across the water. Perhaps the real test will come in 2014, when Independence Day will fall on a Friday.

Police Chief Vincent Carlone says he’s ready — he expects to continue beefed up enforcement for a few more years.

Carlone worked in Narragansett from the 1980s to 2003, as that town reinvented itself from a party destination to a family-oriented village that’s retained its surfing culture but lost the all-night student parties. He says it took more than a police department to make that transformation — it took political will. The sort of will Block Island found last year.

Town officials, the police and the rescue squad defined and then refined a plan anticipating all contingencies. We were prepared for problems that, in the event, never materialized. And, importantly, we’ve established connections with groups like the Disaster Medical Assistance Team that will serve us well in the future. Last July Fourth was, by many measures, a disaster, but it’s not the only kind of disaster the island faces. It’s great that DMAT plans to work more closely with emergency personnel here, and even leave emergency supplies here so that the group could mobilize within hours to respond to a hurricane or other crisis threatening the island.

We also now, of course, have a new law on the books prohibiting any alcohol on our beaches. Let’s hope this law is enforced judiciously. We don’t want underage drinkers passing out drunk in the hot sun; but we don’t want to scare away families who have harmless fun and make great memories enjoying a drink at beach cookouts.

In any case, this year, the party animals stayed away. It was the result that we wanted. We asked the powers that be to make it happen, and they did. Kudos for a job well done.

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