Onset residents disgruntled by lack of beach upkeep

By Lydia Goerner | Jul 02, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner The drainage pipe that empties into East River Beach has been a source of consternation among Onset residents for six years.

After imploring the town to improve a neighborhood beach, some Onset residents have found that fighting city hall is like fighting the tide: you can't.

The residents have been waiting for six years to get their neighborhood East River Beach back, and it looks like they may have some more waiting to do.

In 2011, the town put a drainage pipe in the small beach that drains into the water. Now, property owners in Onset feel they cannot go swimming there with their families because of the supposed hazard.

Paul Deslauriers lives right near this beach and said he has written letters and appeared before the Board of Selectmen for many years with little result.

“They seem to ignore us,” Deslauriers said.

The water flowing into the small beach is all treated, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said. But East River Beach is “not one of the best bathing spots around.” He said more resources are going into the nearby Onset Beach.

“I understand they would like to have that,” Sullivan said. “But they’re steps away from a world-class beach.”

Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum agreed.

“There’s a reason Onset Beach is the beach,” Teitelbaum said.

Richard Macnevin, another Onset resident, said he has the solution to the problems with the pipe. It should be put under a nearby parking lot so it no longer poses a tripping hazard, he said.

Patty Whiting lives nearby and said she recently saw a little boy playing around the pipe and was concerned for his safety. Whiting said she is afraid to walk along the beach because she might trip over the pipe.

Though not many people swim at the small beach anymore, Macnevin said the beach used to hold at least 100 people and that it is being used “increasingly” now.

The residents have other complaints about the way the beach has been treated over the years. Deslauriers said rocks were dumped onto the beach and never removed. No sand has been added to the beach, so it remains rocky. The sea wall at the beach is slowly eroding and selectmen have not responded to requests to repair it, though Sullivan said the town relies on grants for sea wall repairs. Deslauriers also wants the town to take a few hours each week to rake the beach.

“They just don’t seem to be responsive to a taxpayer anymore,” Macnevin said.

Deslauriers keeps a thick folder of all the letters he has sent town officials over the years.

“I’m almost ready to throw in the towel after ten years,” Deslauriers said. He said he feels ready for someone else to take up the cause of the little beach.

Sullivan said there are no plans to make changes to the area in the foreseeable future.

“I understand their frustrations,” Sullivan said. “We’d love to do this kind of thing for all our beaches, but it’s not feasible.”

Onset residents are adamant that a few repairs could go a long way to improving the beach and making it a welcoming place for families.

“Onset is probably the most vital area of Wareham,” Macnevin said.

Richard Mcnevins is concerned about the potential tripping hazard of the pipe. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Paul Deslauriers has folders full of the correspondence he has had with town officials over the years, requesting changes to the beach behind his home. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Mcnevins demonstrates the potential for tripping over the pipe in the water. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Some Onset residents feel the waterfront in their backyards has been neglected by the town. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Comments (6)
Posted by: Rosebud | Jul 03, 2017 22:46

Onset is not unique; Swift's Beach and Swift's Neck could use some "TLC."  And if any one of the Selectmen will is reading this, the holes in our roads from sinking drains are becoming larger.  At least one hole on Bayview could swallow up a toddler.

Posted by: Stpolivier | Jul 04, 2017 07:04

The residents are not asking for a world class beach Derek, just to reclaim a small community family beach that was there before the town deteriated it with the pipe. What happen to the promise to add sand when I was in your office or was that just more lip service?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 04, 2017 13:12

Sand is relatively cheap and easy.  It could really make a lot of people happy.  It will make the beach nice and cover up the pipe.  It won't stay forever but it will be nice for a while.  The Con Com has been known to complicate sanding of beaches (called beach nourishment) by getting way too technical about the type of sand and where the sand is dumped.  That's complete nonsense!  Sand is sand and anything is better than muck and rocks.  Sand has been known to mysteriously fall from the sky during moonless nights onto small beaches near me.  None of us residents can explain it.  Must be aliens.


The discharge end of the pipe will always be an issue but that can be marked with a danger sign.  There was a pipe like this on Swift's when I was a kid.  The sharp metal open end was always a threat.  Oh yea, the water that comes out is from the local catch basins.  It's not sewerage but it's not "treated" as stated. The basins detain it during normal to dry periods.  Detention cleans it a bit but during high rainfall it goes straight on the beach.  Motor oil, dog poop, road kill, and whatever else collects on the roads.  That's why the shellfish beds close after rainfall.


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 04, 2017 15:06

The horror! What about the poor clams?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 04, 2017 15:06

The horror! What about the poor clams?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 05, 2017 09:29

The clams will be fine!  Beach nourishment is like a forest fire.  Short term it does appear detrimental.  But soon enough, everything begins to thrive.  The fresh sand placed on the high beach here had hermit crab holes in it within days.  The water naturally moved it lower where soft shell clams and quahogs adjusted and are doing just fine.  Its all good. Looks great!  The clams are happy as clams!

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