Beach Crowding Sparks Dispute Over Private Parking Lot in Mass.

Beaches around New England seem to be more crowded this summer

NBC Universal, Inc.

Long Beach is a hidden jewel on Massachusetts' Cape Ann that’s feeling the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

The beach is a small sliver of sand that sits on the Rockport/Gloucester line, attracting people from all over and creating congestion in a neighborhood where families have lived for generations. 

”I’ve had my children in their chairs and they can’t even put out there feet. We’ve had to leave the beach on the weekends because there’s just too many people, said Long Beach neighbor Debbie Ramini.

A privately owned parking lot is causing part of uproar. Some neighbors says the lot is bringing in larger-than-normal crowds and raising worries about the coronavirus spreading.

“We’re not trying to put the parking lot out of business. We’re not hoping to close it down. We just want some restrictions, some limitations on how many cars can be parked,” Luke Mazurek said. 

Not everyone agrees.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but to just say 'close the' lot isn’t going to alleviate people coming to the beach in a vehicle,” said Gina McLaughlin.

Dozens of drivers arriving at Gloucester beaches were forced to turn around on Saturday.

Beaches around New England seem to be more crowded this summer. In fact, Gloucester has closed beach parking to out-of-towners at times because of the congestion.

That hasn’t been the case at the privately owned Long Beach lot.

Rick Pratt, its owner, told NBC10 Boston his family has owned the property since 1955. He says he has all the necessary city approvals and is not doing anything wrong. 

”Everyone’s worried about COVID," said Long Beach neighbor Joe McDonough. "But I see Rick Pratt in the parking lot. They pay special measures to make sure they are conforming to the guidelines and I like it’s there. I like that the public can access this beach.”

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