Fitting together all the pieces of the Nauset Beach experience isn't easy, and it's even harder when the ocean is tapping on your shoulder. Last week, selectmen and Woods Hole Group consultant Leslie Fields wrestled with responses to recent storms that have forced the town to demolish the beach's iconic clam shack and move the decades-old gazebo to higher ground. In the short term – for this summer – the town hopes to set up a picnic area a little bit south of the former Liam's location and reroute power nearby for up to four food trucks. The north and south access points to the beach will remain, and there'll be a route from the vicinity of the picnic area. That's the hope for this summer. Fields said the next phase, beginning in the fall or next spring, could involve building new administration and restroom facilities above the beach on the Hubler property. Work would include preparation of a new vehicle access to the beach across that land to the south end of the parking lot, with Beach Road serving as the sole exit. “I don't know about moving bathrooms up to the (Hubler) parking lot,” Selectmen Chairman Jon Fuller said. “That isn't going to work.” Town Administrator John Kelly said staff is concerned that “given what happened in March, we're one storm away from a wash-over in that (lower) parking lot. Any buildings we put there may be damaged.” The board voted 4 to 1 (with Selectman David Currier dissenting) to recommend $175,000 for a Nauset Beach Retreat Master Plan and Design; town meeting and voters at the subsequent election will have to approve funding.
The ombudsman task force was supposed to have completed its work by April 1, but the five-member ad hoc committee has remained short of a quorum all winter. Mary Lyttle and George Waugh responded to the call for volunteers and were to meet with selectmen last night (April 5) regarding their appointment. Lyttle chairs the human services committee and Waugh served more than a decade on the zoning board of appeals and the zoning bylaw task force.
The gang's (almost) all here for the May 15 town election. Kevin Galligan has no challengers for selectman, as do David Lyttle for moderator, Josh Stewart for elementary school committee, Gil Merritt for housing authority, and Carolyn Dowd, Mary Beth Fincke, and Mary Reuland for the library board of trustees. Regarding the two seats on the board of health, Joe Hartung is running for another term and Luke Chapman is the only other candidate. One seat on the Nauset Regional School Committee will have to be filled by write-ins at the polls.
The planning board decided by a 3-2 vote to recommend limiting a proposed change in the town's apartment development bylaw to the village center. Selectman David Currier had said the reduction of minimum lot size should have been made available in General Business and Limited Business zones as well to encourage construction of affordable housing options. Last week, the selectmen voted 3 to 2, with Currier and Selectman Mark Mathison dissenting, to back the planning board's recommendation to town meeting.
Cape Cod Regional Technical High School Superintendent Bob Sanborn and Nauset Regional Schools Superintendent Tom Conrad made budget presentations to the selectmen last week. Both kept spending for the next fiscal year within the 4 percent increase guideline set by selectmen. Sanborn shared the news that his son, a Nauset senior, had gotten into his first-choice college, prompting Town Administrator John Kelly to ask, “So you'll be working a few more years, Bob?” It fell to Conrad to tell the board that Sanborn's son Michael was a student representative to the regional school committee for three years and will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.
Sanborn said he hoped to see “shovels in the ground” for the new Cape Tech building in the early months of 2019. “We do believe a 21st century facility will be a draw,” he said, noting efforts to reverse declining enrollment. He added that Tech has “a relatively vibrant community school at night, but we're looking to grow it...training older adults will be another part of our mission.”
Conrad highlighted Nauset's plan to shift to its own bus fleet, powered by propane, as a move that could save $200,000 in the first year of implementation. The change includes a number of smaller buses as opposed to the current fleet's standard 71 seats. “On the Cape, we're seeing a trend of student enrollment at the very best level across Cape Cod, and over 10 years it goes slightly down,” he said. He also said Nauset has been approved for the International Baccalaureate program, an attraction for the 300 or so Cape Cod students who are seeking such a program.
Who's your candidate for the Orleans Citizenship Award? Volunteer service, a significant contribution or accomplishment, and positive impact on the town and its residents are the criteria for nominations, which are due by April 13. Nominations forms, available at town.orleans.ma.us, town hall, and Snow Library, should be submitted in a sealed envelope marked “2018 Citizen Award Nominations” to Town of Orleans, Town Administrator's Office, 19 School Road, Orleans MA 02653. Attn: Elise Zarcaro. They can also be dropped off at the town administrator's office. The selectmen will present the award at town meeting on May 7.
The assessing office will be closed April 13, and passport service will not be available. Tomorrow (April 6) is Deputy Assessor Ken Hull's retirement date after 32 years with the town.
The finish line for the Main Street sewer project is coming closer, with DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley predicting that installation of service connections could begin by the first of May. Revoli Construction has asked to step up its working hours Monday through Thursday, with Fridays reserved mostly for paving. The new schedule would begin at 7 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. There's a planned month of intense main line construction in April as follows: Through April 6: Route 6A from Main Street toward the Hole in One; through May 24: Main Street from Snow Library to Brewster Cross Road (the library parking lot will be closed once more, perhaps today (April 5); April 9 to 19: Route 6A from Main Street to 115 Cranberry Highway; April 19 to 30: Route 6A to Old Colony and up to the Chocolate Sparrow; and April 24 to May 1: Brewster Cross Road to Cummings Road along Main Street.
Sticker fees for the town's solid waste facility will rise to $125 for commercial and non-commercial users following action by the board of health. The board of selectmen was set to review a variety of suggested fee increases at its meeting last night (April 4) before making a recommendation on a related town meeting warrant article.
The Nauset Beach South trail could be open for travel again Saturday, April 7, according to a town press release. Recent storms had turned parts of the trail into quicksand and left other parts underwater. On March 22, AmeriCorps workers directed by Natural Resources officer Richard Hilmer replaced symbolic fencing on the beach trail.