Graffiti Removal, Trash Pickup Left to R.I. Beachgoers

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Mike Pellini doesn’t get down to the seaside home his grandfather built in 1940 as much as the Massachusetts resident would like. When he does, however, he’s increasingly spending his time removing graffiti from coastal rocks and cleaning up after others.

Before: Graffiti, often offensive like these scribblings left this summer, regularly deface Scarborough Beach and the Black Point recreation area in Narragansett, R.I. (Mike Pellini photos)

Before: Graffiti, often offensive like these scribblings left this summer, regularly deface Scarborough Beach and the Black Point recreation area in Narragansett, R.I. (Mike Pellini photos)

“It’s so disheartening that people do this to such a beautiful place,” the Shrewsbury, Mass., resident said. “It’s disgusting and a huge problem, and the state doesn’t seem to care.”

“Do this” refers to those who spray-paint shoreline rocks with obscenities, leave behind beer cans, beer bottles and cigarette butts after a night of drinking, and generally trash Scarborough Beach and the Black Point recreation area.

Pellini, 52, said this type of thoughtless behavior has marred the area for as long as he can remember. He has spoken with employees from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) about the problem, to no avail.

After: A small group of thoughtful Ocean State beachgoers mix paints so the color will match when the rocks are painted to hide the obscenities.

After: A small group of thoughtful Ocean State beachgoers mix paints so the color will match when the rocks are painted to hide the obscenities.

“I’m always told we don’t have the resources ... no budget ... too expensive to clean the rocks,” Pellini said. “It’s so frustrating.”

The cleanup is instead left to people such as Pellini, Camilla Lee, Marianne Kittredge Chronley, and Holley and Ted Flagg. For the past three years or so, they have been cleaning up after the partiers. They pick up marine debris such as plastic bags, plastic bottles and Styrofoam cups. Holley, an artist who paints local nature scenes, mixes paints — donated by Jerry’s Paint and Hardware on Point Judith Road — to match the color of the defaced rocks.

Creating the right color, painting the rocks — Pellini, who is slightly younger than the others in the clean-up group, handles the painting of the harder-to-get-to rocks — and hauling out other people’s trash takes time and effort.

“It’s crazy the state doesn’t do anything about this,” Pellini said. “Rhode Island has this wonderful resource and the state allows it to be trashed.”