Committee recommends resident-only access to Pismo Beach

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Ad Hoc Pismo Beach Committee Chairman Caldwell Jackson turns to address a question by committee member Sharon Jackson at a November 7 meeting.

OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen is expected to review a recommendation at its meeting tonight, Nov. 15, to restrict access to the town beach to those who display a transfer station on their vehicle and to walk in patrons.

Members of the Ad Hoc Pismo Beach Committee wrapped up their work last week during the second and last meeting of the group on November 7, voting to forward the series of recommendations to the Board of Selectmen for further action.

Voters are expected to be asked to approve the final proposal.

While there may be some case-by-case issues raised, generally the recommendation states that a beach user must display a transfer station sticker if they park in the Pismo Beach parking lot. Guests of residents or taxpayers are allowed to use the beach but must also display a transfer station sticker if they are not walking to the beach.

Anyone walking into the beach area will be able to use the facility.

Committee members say ball players and their families, using the playing fields at the beach, should also be allowed to use the beach during tournaments.

There will be no fee for any patron of the beach.

Although overcrowding at the beach has not seemed to be an issue, Town Manager Butch Asselin said the parking lot is limited in size and therefore the regulations must be followed, if they are approved.

It is expected the beach will be posted for daylight-hour-use only.

The town beach and its adjacent boat ramp on the 4,426-acre Thompson Lake, which borders Oxford, Poland and Otisfield, was created in 1975 on land donated by the Anderson-Staples American Legion Post.

It was funded and maintained by the town’s Recreation Department, the Oxford Baseball Softball Association and volunteers. The beach has been available to residents and taxpayers since the mid 1970s.

In July 2017, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 that only guests of taxpayers and residents would be allowed at Pismo Beach beginning in 2018, and only if the resident or taxpayer were present.

The beach regulations were approved July 20, 2017, following a proposal by then Recreation Director Connie Staples. Those regulations superseded existing regulations that allowed guests of property owners on the beach with a consent slip obtained from the Town Office.

Guests at the Oxford Casino Hotel and Hampton Inn were also provided passes if they wished to use the beach. The proposed regulations also provides the same.

Although the consent slips were honored through the 2017 summer season, selectmen in 2018 said all residents or taxpayers would have to be present with their guests and no consent slips would be issued.

This past summer the issue of who could use the town beach resurfaced as concern grew over limited parking and other issues.

At a July 19 meeting, Selectmen and others discussed developing regulations that would open the beach to the general public with nonresidents paying $25 for seasonal pass or a $5 day pass. It was suggested that an ad hoc committee be established to study the issue and make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen. Their first meeting was on October 2.

Access to town beaches has been an ongoing issue in many towns. Bridgton and Harrison have opened their beaches to nonresidents simply because it has been easier than restricting access. Others, such as Poland, have set up a fee system, $50 (seasonal) or a $5 day pass.

Pennessewassee Lake off Route 117 Norway is open to the public at no cost.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net