Word that Harwich will receive a $1 million Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council grant for the landside portion of the Saquatucket Harbor upgrade opens up the potential for adding back into the project elements that were taken out when bids came in over the $3 million appropriation. Officials have begun to talk about the most significant of the deleted items, a town-constructed restaurant or snack shack.
Last week, selectmen got an earful from folks associated with Brax Landing, the restaurant located right next door to the harbor. Understandably, they're worried that a town-owned and leased restaurant at the harbor would hurt their business. Whether that's true or not – there seem to be enough customers to fill most local eateries in the summer months – the town shouldn't be in the business of building and leasing commercial space. Harwich should save the money constructing a restaurant or snack shack at Saquatucket would cost and instead reduce taxpayers' obligation for the overall project. Just because you've got it, doesn't mean you have to spend it.
A compromise that would help serve the needs of boaters and tourists without impacting local businesses is to set aside space at the newly-revamped harbor for a couple of food trucks. In the past, the locally-owned Salt Box food truck has been stationed across the street at the former Thompson's Market parking lot; that property will no longer be available now that it is being leased by the Outer Cape Health Services. Food trucks could provide snacks and light meals for boaters or harbor visitors, and the town could benefit by charging a modest rent for the space. It would add to the attraction of the newly renovated harbor, and keep the peace in the business community.