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Old Lyme - Visitors to Sound View Beach will now have to leave their large coolers at home.
At the recommendation of the Sound View Commission, the Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to prohibit coolers larger than 5 quarts on the beach.
The ban on coolers larger than the size of a lunch box is a step toward mitigating overcrowding and littering at the public beach, according to the commission.
"This year we are experiencing unprecedented overcrowding at Sound View Beach, and a dramatic increase in the amount of trash left on the beach at the end of the day," states a June 24 letter from Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo to the selectmen.
"The Commission has been reluctant to suggest a complete ban on coolers, citing inconvenience to our residents, particularly families with small children," the letter continues. "However, this year we are seeing coolers of enormous size, toted by groups of day-trippers. These large size coolers also make it difficult for our Rangers to conduct a proper inspection and the general conclusion is that alcohol is often buried within."
First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder discussed the matter with the town police prior to the meeting. Police agreed the coolers were problematic, but also mentioned that a restriction on cooler size could be more difficult to enforce than a complete cooler ban.
The selectmen said enforcement of the size restriction could pose challenges. But they said the ban on large coolers was a compromise and a necessary step to counter drinking and litter on the town-maintained beach.
"We're spending time and money to clean it," said Selectmen Skip Sibley of the beach.
Park rangers will enforce the cooler-size policy and call police if there are any issues. The Sound View Commission will work on signs to inform people about the new policy and monitor how the cooler restriction is working, Pappalardo said.