Non-Resident Parking to Remain Limited at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek
GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Police Chief Edward Conley, Director of Public Works Michael Hale and Public Health Director Karin Carroll report that the City of Gloucester is reopening public beach parking lots at a reduced capacity to non-residents this upcoming weekend, July 25-26.
The City of Gloucester closed its parking lots at Stage Fort Park, Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach to non-residents this past weekend on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19 following numerous complaints of excessive traffic, illegal parking, littering and increased public safety concerns by City officials. The decision also sought to promote social distancing amid COVID-19 due to beach capacity concerns around the scheduled tide cycle.
“This weekend we saw far less traffic, and I’m thankful to everyone who helped everything go smoothly, including my staff, the City Council, Department of Public Works, the Police Department, our new Beach and Park Rangers, the Health Department, Bob Ryan and the Traffic Commission, as well as our residents,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “If our beaches become overwhelmed or if capacity is reduced because of tides, we may have to limit access again in the future.”
This weekend, the parking lots at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek Beaches will be open to residents and a limited number of non-residents, at a reduced capacity. Stage Fort Park will be open to the public. Non-residents will be required to pay daily parking rates at the gate. Residents will be able to continue parking in these lots with either a 2019 or 2020 beach sticker, or a car registration and license with a Gloucester address if they are still waiting for their beach sticker.
For the remainder of the summer, the City of Gloucester will announce any parking restrictions for the coming weekend on the Wednesday prior. Real time parking updates will also be posted regularly to the Gloucester Beaches Facebook page run by the City at @gloubeaches.
On weekends the parking lots typically fill up by 9 a.m. and begin to reopen in the afternoon. While visitors wait to get into the beach parking lots, the City welcomes people to enjoy all that Gloucester has to offer, including whale watches, fishing charters, museums, parks, restaurants, fresh seafood, artisans and more.
The City is working closely with businesses to ensure everyone can enjoy their time in Gloucester in a safe and healthy manner. The Visitors Center at State Fort Park is now open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to assist visitors with questions and information.
To learn more, check out the City’s “Re-Discover Gloucester” campaign at www.discovergloucester.com.
“All of our public spaces are busier than ever this summer,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “Our beaches are beautiful, but there are so many other things to do in our great City. We love life here in Gloucester and know you will too. Join us for the day and dine in our amazing restaurants featuring the freshest fish and local fare, visit the historic Rocky Neck Art Colony, stroll down Main Street, enjoy shops, cafes and galleries in every neighborhood throughout the City, go on a whale watch, sail, or visit our museums.”
City officials will continue to monitor tide cycles, local COVID-19 transmission rates, traffic, parking and public safety concerns, and reserve the right to, at any time, limit access to the beaches or beach parking lots as is necessary.
This past weekend, the Gloucester Police Department issued 153 parking violations and five cars were towed. By an emergency order from the City of Gloucester citing public safety concerns, nearly three dozen streets were temporarily classified as resident parking only to reduce traffic. Additional streets are being added to this list near beaches throughout the City to limit non-resident street parking in neighborhoods and allow better enforcement by the Gloucester Police Department.
“We will be closely monitoring parking violations in the City for the remainder of the summer, and it’s essential that everyone continues to follow any future limitations the City may place on the public parking lots or on residential street parking near public spaces,” Chief Conley said. “Thank you to everyone for your continued patience and understanding.”
Increased police patrols on the beaches are planned for the remainder of the summer.
Beach Rangers will also be present each weekend at Stage Fort Park and Gloucester beaches. The rangers will assist City staff, monitor safety at these locations, and ensure a positive experience for all patrons. Their presence will help preserve the beaches and Stage Fort Park, maintain their natural beauty and amid the COVID-19 pandemic ensure limited capacity of parks and beaches for social distancing.
Gloucester Beaches are operating amid COVID-19 as follows:
- Beach goers are asked to maintain a minimum of 12 feet of distance between toweling and blanket areas.
- A minimum of six feet shall be maintained between lifeguards, lifeguard stands and the public unless there is an emergency.
- At Good Harbor and Wingaersheek Beaches restrooms will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be four portable toilets. Stage Fort Park will have two portable toilets available at the Cupboard Restaurant and four near the Visitor’s Center. Bathroom facilities will be cleaned regularly and will be deep-cleaned and disinfected frequently.
- Beach visitors shall follow social distancing guidelines when standing in bathroom lines and follow any established visual guidelines for maintaining a six foot distance in all restroom facilities.
- Lot attendants and lifeguards will wear face coverings when they are unable to maintain a social distance from others. They will additionally be advised to frequently wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Beach visitors are also asked to review all signage before entering the beach to ensure rules and regulations will not be inadvertently violated.
“Please be respectful when visiting our City and follow the rules in place,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “The safety of City residents, employees and guests is our priority. COVID-19 doesn’t take a summer vacation, and we must all continue to do our part to keep each other safe. Please wear a face covering in public, maintain social distancing, wash and sanitize your hands often and stay home if you’re sick.”