Notte beach stays open all summer

Notte beach stays open all summer

NORTH PROVIDENCE - High bacteria counts shut down community beaches across the state over the summer, but not in North Providence, where the Notte Park beach pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year.

Few would have placed bets on this beach on the Wenscott Reservoir when the summer was still young - it had been shut down just a few days before the June 30 opening date for high bacteria counts - but the facility ended up staying open to swimmers every day for the entire season.

Town officials had long been frustrated about regularly being forced to shut down the local beach for high bacteria levels, a troublesome trend that made it difficult to attract lifeguards for when the beach was open.

The credit for the lower bacteria levels can be traced back to efforts last year by representatives for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate the geese that once flocked to the Wenscott Reservoir, according to town officials. Fewer geese means less fecal matter in the water and lower bacteria counts, they say.

"It cost us a few dollars, but we have a beach now," said Mayor Charles Lombardi.

Last summer, and for the better part of the three summers before that, Notte Park beach was closed to swimmers due to high counts of enterococci bacteria, which health officials blame for causing various health problems, including gastrointestinal infections.

A representative from the North Providence Recreation Department said Monday that employees were "very surprised" that the bacteria levels stayed low enough to keep the beach open all summer. The cleaner water did not lead to a significant increase in the number of people who use the beach, said the employee.

With geese at the Notte Park beach now largely eliminated, town officials are turning their attention to a number of other ideas for improving the quality of life at the Notte Park and the adjoining Camp Meehan property, according to Lombardi.

New fountains should soon be installed in the reservoir to keep water moving and discourage bacteria growth, said the mayor. The fountains will also make for a prettier view.

A new partnership between the town and schools will launch on Wednesday with a community boating center on the Camp Meehan property. Residents will soon have the chance to sail boats built by students at Birchwood Middle School, Ricci Middle School and North Providence High School.