Oxford board nixes article on town beach use

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OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Thursday night to remove an article from the Sept. 20 special town meeting warrant that would open allow the public to use the town beach on Thompson Lake.

Instead, the board has followed a recommendation by Town Manager Butch Asselin, and agreed to place the article on the annual town meeting warrant in June 2019.

He also recommended, and the board agreed, that an ad hoc committee of up to seven people to look at beach issues and report to selectmen. He recommended the panel include a representative of the Pismo Beach area, a selectman, a resident-at-large and the recreation director.

The unanimous decision followed more than an hour of discussion during a public hearing by Pismo Beach area residents about why the beach should be open to residents and their guests only.

“It’s not right,” said Sharon Jackson, a former member of the Recreation Committee. Earlier in the day she suggested to Asselin that the article be removed from the warrant and a committee formed.

Jackson argued that three-quarters of the townspeople are unaware of the proposal to open the town beach “to the world” and that before any vote is taken, residents need to be aware and educated about the ramifications of such a move.

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Jackson said opening the beach to the public would create a chaotic parking issues on the narrow streets that surround the town beach and ball fields. She said restricting the beach hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. would impede fishermen who go out early in the morning and sometimes don’t return until after 8 p.m.

Others agreed with her, saying traffic is already a serious problem on King Street, the main route to the beach area.

Recreation Director Kathleen Dillingham stressed that she has taken no position on the issue but has addressed the board previously simply to get clarification on the policies.

There are problems at the beach, she said, but unless there are clear rules that are enforceable it is difficult to resolve some them.

“If you’re going to have these polices, enforce them,” she said.

Residents at the hearing asked about other proposed ordinances on issues such as dogs, tobacco use, cemeteries and zoning that will be voted on at the special town meeting next month.

Residents have asked that clear information about the proposed changes be available to voters prior to the meeting.

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Oxford Recreation Director Kathleen Dillingham told residents at Thursday night’s public hearing that she has asked for clarification on beach policies so they can be enforced. (Leslie H. Dixon/Advertiser Democrat)

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