RPD keeps Memorial Day beach crowds and traffic in check

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Memorial Day Weekend is the kickoff for summer. Ontario Beach Park is one of the most popular spots for it. But the Rochester Police Department said there was so much traffic, they had to shut down nearby roads for a few hours.

“Charlotte Beach, the Lake Ontario State Park up there, always traditionally has large crowds,” said Lt. Greg Bello.

He said RPD assigned extra officers to monitor the beach. The goal was to keep crowds and traffic in check.

“The crowds were getting large, the parking lot filled with vehicles, and quite a few traffic issues up there,” said Bello. “So ultimately, a decision was made to restrict traffic flow into Charlotte, up Lake Ave., as well as Beach Ave. for a couple hours, while they allowed some traffic to flow out.”

He said it ended up being a great decision, but some folks online say getting home was tricky.

One person posted in Rochester Reddit, saying around 8:30, they were asked to pull over and wait. Then, they say were asked to show proof of ID, only to be redirected around the block.

“So I’m not aware of each individual officer, what their interactions were at the traffic points, and state police assisted as well,” said Bello. “While that was not part of the plan, again, I can’t speak to individual interactions.”

Thomas Bruce, president of Charlotte Community Association said their partnership with police has been helpful in the summer. He wants Ontario Beach Park to be safe for all ages, whether folks are driving, walking or just enjoying the sun.

In recent summers, police have broken up fights near the entrance when night falls.

“But that happens everywhere,” he said. “Down here happens to be a place where people can come, but we can’t expect our police officers and park department to be at every point at every minute, it’s a big place.”

Now, he’s looking ahead to the rest of the summer.

“If you’re going to come after dark, don’t be alone,” said Bruce. “Don’t be just with one child or something, be with a group.”

“Anytime there’s a big event, there’s an operational plan that goes into play, in which we have different criteria,” said Bello. “We have different contingencies depending on different things that could occur. Whether it’s Memorial Day up at the beach, the parade downtown yesterday, whether it be the fireworks, whatever it may be.”

Bello said they always reassess every major event and holiday, and discuss ways they can improve.

If they have to, they will shut the park down.