You would think based on the recent news that those of us living in Merrimack walk around in white hoods looking for ways to keep people with skin darker then our own out of town. Problem is most coverage and commentary leaves out most of the facts leading up to the privatizing the town beach in Wasserman Park.
"The move to ban non-residents began last summer when councilors discussed how to handle a number of Spanish-speaking visitors coming to the beach. Park officials and police said nonresidents -- including Spanish speakers -- were crowding the beach on weekends.
Those who were roughhousing, toting alcohol and breaking other rules pointed out that they could not understand the posted park rules because they were written in English."
You would think it was the Spanish speakers that spured this discussion. Heck, just read that first sentence, "The move to ban non-residents began last summer when councilors discussed how to handle a number of Spanish-speaking visitors coming to the beach." Right from the get go it's written in a way to make one believe the town officials sat around discussing how to handle "Spanish speaking visitors" instead of how to handle those breaking the rules of the beach who used Spanish as a scapegoat as their reason for disregarding the signs.
Fact is the town has been complaining since at least 2003 that the small beach isn't big enough for those in town who wish to use it and those coming from other towns and in many cases other states. I recall one former selectman pointing to the fact he often saw the number of MA plates outnumbering the number of NH plates in the parking lot. And police time and time again had to be called in to handle people breaking the rules.
The incident that was the final straw was a group who were openly drinking and causing problems on the beach. When police arrived they responded to the police, in English mind you, that they could not read the signs because they were in English. Apparently "No Alcohol" which when translated into Spanish would say... well it would still say "No Alcohol" was too much for them to understand. And as it turns out they too had come up to the town of Merrimack from our neighboring state to the south.
The police department went to the town council, who was also discussing signage at the same meeting for an ATV park which the town choose to keep as residences only park to cut down traffic and put the local tax payers first, to discuss Wasserman Park's beach. Police pointed to the fact that recently those being stopped used the argument that the signs were in English as their excuse for why they broke the rules and the police said putting multi-lingual signs up would prevent that from being used as an excuse. The council correctly argued back that if we opened that door where would it end, would we be paying for signs in Arabic, Italian, French, etc etc etc? They all agreed the problem stemmed not from language but from out of towners abusing a local beach. For that reason they choose to close it off to those outside of Merrimack rather then force locals to put up more and more money to prevent those who caused problems from having excuses for breaking the rules.
That doesn't stop those who aren't even involved in the situation from playing the race card though and try to make it about race rather then as it really is about locals having had enough crap from out of towners causing problems preventing many of us from being able to enjoy a beach our local tax dollars support and pay for.
One blogger from CA choose to argue that Merrimack is seeking to ban latinos without even gathering all the facts first. When confronted with details about the sign he admitted he didn't even know what the sign said. Yet he continue to argue it was about race.
I equate this to a swimming pool in my yard. I may invite my neighbors to swim in the pool and cool off. As long as they behave themselves I have no problem with them being there. If they start showing up drunk, swearing and hit my kids with beer bottles (which one report I read states they did at this beach) I will ask them all to leave and not allow them to use the pool any longer. So try as people may to make this about race it isn't. It's a simple matter of break the rules and lose a privilege.