By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
NEWPORT, R.I. — City officials want the organizer of the Newport Marathon to pay for repairs to sand dunes damaged during the popular Oct. 12 road races.
Eident Sports Marketing, of Providence, was sent a letter from the Public Services Department on Dec. 5 seeking more than $4,800 to restore a dune system that separates Memorial Boulevard from Easton's Beach, also known as First Beach.
According to Erik Reis, beach manager at Easton's Beach, many of the 5,000 runners trampled the dunes as they climbed over the natural barriers to reach the starting line in the beach parking lot. Spectators caused further damage as they stood atop the dunes to watch the start of the races.
“They trampled them pretty good,” Reis said.
In an October memorandum, Reis and William R. Riccio Jr., Newport's director of public services, asked interim city manager Joseph Nicholson to no longer allow Eident to host the event. They also suggested that the city take legal action to require Eident to pay for repairs.
A repair estimate to the 100-foot-long coastal feature includes planting more than 5,000 beach-grass seedlings to cover 4,000 square feet of damaged dunes and 84 hours of labor.
John Matthews, owner of Eident Sports Marketing, didn't respond to a request for comment. But Riccio said he received a voicemail from Matthews saying he intends to pay for the repairs. In addition to the Newport races, Eident organizes and manages road races in Providence, Jamestown and Middletown.
Reis recalled one incident of minor damage to the dunes in previous years when Eident hosted the event. The race organizer, he said, usually installs protective barriers. He also said that Easton's Beach could continue to host the event as long as certain conditions are met.
“We like the event. It’s a matter of respecting and protecting the property,” Reis said.
Eident seems intent on returning to Newport. On it’s website, the company is counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the 2015 Newport Marathon.