CONWAY — The town of Conway will be putting up signs at several recreation sites saying that charcoal grills and campfires are prohibited.
On Tuesday, selectmen authorized staff to put up the signs after hearing from Town Manager Tom Holmes and Recreation Director John Eastman, who clarified to the Sun on Wednesday that the signs will be put up at Davis Park, Conway Lake, First Bridge and Smith-Eastman landing, all popular boating and tubing spots where paid parking was installed this year.
Holmes brought up the issue during his town manager's report, mentioning people grilling at Davis Park and First Bridge. He said that charcoal presents a fire hazard and spent charcoal could end up in the woods or water if not disposed of properly.
"Propane grills when people want to picnic at First Bridge and Davis Park will be fine, but charcoal grills, we think, raise certain hazardous issues that we'd rather avoid," said Holmes.
Chairman David Weathers asked Eastman if many people were bringing charcoal grills versus gas grills. He also asked about what was being done with the ashes.
Eastman said parking attendants have seen barbecuers with charcoal.
"It's become more of an issue," said Eastman. "Maybe it's happened in years past but we just didn't know that. Because we have an attendant there ... they see that."
Eastman said he encountered someone with a charcoal grill at First Bridge. He told the person to stay with the grill until the fire is out and to take the ashes with them.
"At First Bridge, where do you put it?" asked Eastman rhetorically about the burnt charcoal. "You can't put it in the woods and there's no place to dispose of it."
Selectman John Colbath asked about open flames, meaning campfires.
Eastman said so far no one has tried to make a fire pit at any of the rec sites but said wording prohibiting fire pits could be added to signage,
Weathers added that permits are required for fire pits no matter where they are in town.
Colbath made a motion to have signs posted at First Bridge and Davis Park to that effect, but then Selectmen Mary Carey Seavey wondered why the motion should be limited to just those two sites.
"It should be consistent, I would think," said Seavey.
Colbath changed the motion to say all rec sites and Eastman agreed.
Selectmen passed it 4-0. Selectmen Steve Porter was absent. Signs could be installed next week, Eastman said Thursday.