Oakland Beach is a bustling, if out-of-the-way, summertime economic engine on Greenwich Bay in Warwick. There’s a popular clam shack, some sit down places, a few mini-marts and even a Harley Davidson dealer … all of which are in business to make money off those spending a summer day at the beach.
Meanwhile, the beach here has been closed to swimming for almost all of July and 24 days in total since mid-June.
Oakland Beach is the poster child for why beach closures matter to the Ocean State. This community’s economy, like so many in Rhode Island, ebbs and flows with the strength or weakness of summer. But Oakland Beach’s proximity to suburbia and its calm, warm waters have become it’s biggest detriments. These conditions are a perfect storm for a beach too polluted to swim at.
The issue is widespread in Warwick, where local beaches have been closed or almost 50 days in total this summer. From 2000 to 2012, according to health department data, Conimicut Point in Warwick has been closed more than any other beach in the state, with 230 days. Oakland Beach is second with 190 closed days. City Park in Warwick had its beach closed 119 times since 2000 and Goddard Park has been closed 110 times. There are only two other beaches in the state that have been closed more than 100 days during that time.