Island readies itself for a safe and happy 4th
Here’s the message from the New Shoreham Police Department for the July 4 weekend: Have fun, but obey the rules and try not to participate in what Alan Greenspan once called “irrational exuberance.”
Greenspan was talking about the economy, but Police Chief Vin Carlone would apply that statement to drinking and other forms of recreation that could get people into trouble.
“We’ll have an enhanced state police presence here and an enhanced presence in Point Judith,” said Carlone. “We’ll be informing people through flyers, on the other side, of the rules, such as no public drinking and no drinking on the beach,” Carlone said.
An unpleasant July 4 weekend from a few years back, during which a huge crowd engaged in excessive public drinking, cast some worry on what damage had been done to the island’s tourism industry. Carlone said the island is committed to ensuring that everyone, young and old alike, has a safe and pleasant stay here.
“We’re doing some marketing in publications to explain to people that we’re a safe island and we have calmed everything down,” said Carlone. This move was made precisely, Carlone said, because “we had heard that families weren’t going to come back.”
Carlone said that the police will have a trailer in the center of town. Officers will give people an opportunity to leave their coolers behind before they go to the beach. “We don’t want to arrest people,” said Carlone.
It’s difficult to estimate just how many people visit Block Island on the July 4 weekend, but Carlone put it this way: it’s been estimated that up to 3,000 boats visit the island, with an estimated three people per boat. That’s 9,000 people. “There are 22 ferries a day, from Montauk, New London, Pt. Judith and now Newport. You have your renters and the people who only come in the summer and everyone’s inviting guests,” Carlone said, estimating that the island population may inflate to 20,000 to 25,000 over the long weekend.
Barbara Baldwin said the Block Island Health Center would be ready for urgent care cases for the upcoming weekend. Baldwin said the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) will also be on island, “but that will be scaled back this year.” She mentioned that these mobile emergency teams had been dispatched to Oklahoma, where some of the most destructive tornadoes in recent memory have caused extensive damage.
Baldwin said she and her staff will also be on call for the weekend following July 4, “because we had more instances [of visits at the health center] on the day or two after.”
The primary concerns in recent years have been alcohol poisoning, dehydration and other drinking-related incidents.
Baldwin said she felt the town had a handle on things this year. “The police do a good job,” she said. “They are committed to stopping it.”