WESTERLY — The chairman of the town's Conservation Commission is hoping to increase access to the Pawcatuck River one spot at a time.
Joseph T. MacAndrew, who chairs the commission and also serves on the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association board of trustees, asked the Town Council on Monday to consider creating an access point for kayaks at the end of a town-owned dirt road across from the Gingerella Sports Complex on White Rock Road.
Speaking on behalf of the Conservation Commission, MacAndrew said that because a road already exists, he believed the area could be prepared easily and be ready by the spring. "This is in anticipation of the wild and scenic designation being passed by Congress" for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed, he said, adding that "passage is imminent."
The designation, MacAndrew said, will "open up all kinds of grants and funding for restoration of the waterway, flood mitigation and recreation areas."
If created, MacAndrew said, the access point would be the only access point for kayaks between the Potter Hill area and the public boat launch off Main Street, across from McQuade's Marketplace. Some kayakers, he noted, prefer not to go south of the Stillman Avenue bridge, which is upstream from the boat launch.
MacAndrew asked the council to put the potential access point on a future agenda for additional discussion with the Conservation Commission and the association. Short- and long-term proposals should be discussed, including the addition of other potential river access points, he said. One possibility might be the White Rock Road property that the town is buying for a solar power project.
MacAndrew said the town is poised to play an important role once the area receives the designation from Congress. "Westerly could be the gateway to this park system," he said.
Creating new river access points in the northern section of the town could also be a way to boost tourism without adding to the the town's congested beach areas, MacAndrew said.
"More tourism in the northern part of town will bring people into downtown," he said.
In other business, the council reappointed Leo F. Manfred II to serve as assistant town attorney for prosecutions. He has held the position for about 18 years. The position entails prosecuting cases in Municipal Court and in District Court.
The council also voted 6-0 to increase the number of council representatives on the Public Works Subcommittee from two to three. The subcommittee reviews and monitors road work and other projects and serves in an advisory capacity to the Town Council.
Councilor Brian McCuin was not in attendance.