Summer chill … Parks not for sale … Dunfey states her case … 5-year capital plan submitted … Selectmen hold off on suit … Stimulus comes to Rye … Teens pull up pepperweed

Staff of Rye Reflections


This is summer? Above, cowled lifeguard, clinging to cup of coffee, surveys the scene at Jenness/Cable Beach on June 30, while, below, Gail Beamer and Julie Schlacter demonstrate how loyal beachgoers contended with the chilly months of June and July. How cold was it? Check out "New Castle Saltines" in this issue. (Photos by Gail Beamer and Rachel Schlacter)

The sun came out one day in mid-July but so too did the high-bacteria advisory sign, discouraging swimming for 24 hours before it was lifted by the Department of Environmental Services on Jenness/Cable. Updated information on bacteria notices is available at www.des.state.nh.us. Lifeguard sign notes the water temperature was 59 degrees. Meanwhile, through rain and shine, surfers thrived. Shown below at the end of a good run is a participant in a North Beach, Hampton, competition on July 25. (Photos by Gail Beamer and Judy Palm)

Back to drawing board …

All of the key officials were gathered in Rye Town Hall courtroom, but it was as though a pin had been stuck into a balloon.

Two weeks after the Rye Board of Selectmen had passed a motion expressing interest in re-acquiring Jenness State Beach, Rep. David Borden gathered an all-star cast for the July 13 Selectmen's meeting that included: George Bald, state commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), Ted Austin, director of the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation and two of his top staffers, Executive Councilor Beverly Hollingworth, state Senator Margaret Fuller Clark and Rep. Judith Spang. Present from the Rye board were Priscilla Jenness, chair, and Joe Mills. Craig Musselman participated via telephone hookup from Maryland, where he was on vacation.

Only about 10 days earlier Bald had pulled back a draft of a statewide Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan, because the media and public got the impression from wording in the report that some parks might be sold. "We have no intention of selling the parks," Bald said He spoke of forging partnerships, having closer interplay with local communities, but offered no specific steps.

Senator Fuller Clark, Councilor Hollingworth and Reps. Spang and Borden pushed for a committee to be formed or public-private coalition, especially as regarded Jenness State Beach and White Island, but nothing more than better state-local cooperation was agreed to.

Bald has promised that "a revised draft plan will be available for public comment in August." He told the Rye gathering that the notion of "selling" was started in one newspaper and picked up by others and said the media failed to use the word "draft" in referring to the report. (Using Google to search the internet, Rye Reflections has done an analysis of the coverage from the time the report surfaced on the Parks website on June 4 until the first story on June 18 as well as subsequent statewide coverage. In each news story the report was referred to as a draft.)

Hollingworth complained that "a lot of people didn't hear" about the report in time for the public hearing. Mills added, "We had no warning."

Mills also told Bald and Austin that the big problem at Jenness State Beach is the restrooms. He said the lines were long on a recent good weekend day and, because of a nearby private parking lot that adds to the beach crowdedness, the restrooms get "triple the use" they would if there were only the state parking lot. "More than triple," said Jenness to underscore the point.

Bald promised that he and Austin would personally check the restroom situation at Jenness State Beach.

Routine no longer permit-able …

A change in operational procedures in the Rye Building Inspector's office is causing some adjustments, prompting longtime secretary Sue Dunfey to make two appearances before the Board of Selectmen asking for a promotion to Deputy Building Inspector. She had done some homework.

Dunfey told the Board that the position of Deputy Building Inspector was created in 1988. For nine years, she said, she has been handling duties listed in 1988 for a position that was never filled. Among those duties was the signing of routine building permits — "those that do not require prior review" — which she said she has been handling until ordered to desist in early July. She said she signed her own name above "For Susan Labrie." (Labrie, who was not present, having gone home sick earlier that day, is Rye's Building Inspector.)

Interim Town Administrator Mike Farrell said he had sent a note ending the practice early in July, because "the fact that she has been doing it doesn't have any bearing … she is not qualified to sign anything." Dunfey responded that she called "30 or so" other town building inspector offices who have been doing the same as Rye, that there is no RSA (state law) specifying qualifications for such signings and that there are other assistants in Town Hall who sign basic documents on behalf of their department heads. "It's common practice," she said.

Dunfey also said there are not even state laws defining qualification for being a building inspector.

"Do you make building-code determinations?" Craig Musselman asked.

"No, I look it up and copy that section for them (contractors)," Dunfey said.

In response to a question from Joe Mills, Dunfey said she signed septic permits, too, but added that they have prior state approval, part of which is based on input from Dennis Plante, septic consultant for Rye.

Dunfey said that any permit request that required review "goes directly onto her (Labrie's) desk, and I don't touch it". Dunfey emphasized that she never signed Labrie's name to a document. "I sign my own name — for — Susan Labrie.

Those points made, Dunfey didn't seem to convince chairwoman Priscilla Jenness regarding the title and promotion. Jenness's late husband, Bill, was longtime Building Inspector.

The matter was taken under advisement.


Gull stands guard on Star Island, not afraid to buzz visitors …
… if they landed too near baby seagulls.(Gail Beamer photos)

Teens with plenty of pull …  

The pesky perennial pepperweed plant continues its invasively destructive ways, requiring diligence and creativity on the part of the Department of Environmental Services just to keep up with its spread. Enlisting the help of the Seacoast Youth Services has been one approach this summer. The DES's Coastal Program is working with 22 teenagers who have been trained to identify and hand pull pepperweeds. Last year DES identified Odiorne State Park in Rye and the Hampton Transfer Station as hard-hit areas. But pepperweed is likely to take root in salt marshes or along roadsides as well and is inhospitable to wildlife, according to the agency, For more information see the special presention at the DES website, or to report a sighting, contact the Coastal Program at (603) 559-1500.


Michaela Rocha