RAYMOND – Over the winter, the board will consider options for managing the problems at the beach, which include lack of supervision and an abundance of waste.

RAYMOND – It’s official. Raymond Beach is closed for the summer.

At Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting, the board voted unanimously to shut the beach for the season. Over the winter, the board will consider options for managing the problems at the beach, which include lack of supervision and an abundance of waste.

“It has to be done,” said Selectman Lonnie Taylor. “The goal is to look at the issues, find a solution, and reopen the beach next year.”

The beach was originally closed over the July 4 weekend this year when a water test by the Portland Water District came back dangerously high for E. coli bacteria. At the time, warmer than normal water temperatures along with discarded baby diapers were thought to be the main culprits, but after a more in depth look by the Raymond Public Works Department it was clear those were not the only reasons.

Trash, diapers, rotten food, human excrement and hypodermic needles were found by town officials in the sand and water at Raymond Beach. The beach does not have trash cans or staff, and the public is asked to carry out their trash when they leave the beach.

It is a policy that town officials feel is clearly not working.

“Over the last 10 years it has gotten progressively worse,” said Nathan White, ?Raymond’s public works director. “You name it, and we picked it up.”

Among the options that will be considered is the management system already in use at Tassle Top public beach in Raymond, which includes the use of rangers to watch over the beach.

“I think the best idea is the Tassle Top management model,” said Town Manager Don Willard. “That’s the way we originally envisioned that beach.”

If the town decides to go with that model they would need to hire a full-time ranger for the summer months, creating possible budget and safety issues.

“If it’s up to taxpayers to subsidize it, then it becomes a budget issue,” said Selectman Joseph Bruno. “And are we going to have a high school kid telling some 6-foot-3-inch guy with tattoos and piercings that he can’t do something on the beach?”

Willard believes that the right individual could keep peace at the beach, and other safety precautions would be put in place, including locking access to the beach at night.

Another possibility for the beach is leasing the area to a private vendor who may see an opportunity for business. Such an entity could staff the beach and rent canoes, kayaks, or set up a small vending cart.

“We could look at the private sector model,” said Willard. “We could lease it to a vending wagon or such.”

Whatever the selectman decide, they assured the public the main priority is to keep the beach clean and the beachgoers safe.

“We want to find a solution and have it open to the public next summer,” said Selectman Michael Reynolds.


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