ORLEANS — Selectmen voted last week to file for permits for a phased retreat of the town's facilities at Nauset Beach.
“The average rate of erosion was 12 feet per year between 1994 and 2005,” town consultant Leslie Fields of the Woods Hole Group told the board July 10. “The last two years, it's been a little bit less. Mother Nature has bought the town a little bit of time.”
That reprieve has allowed a comfortable window in which to plan a two-phase project to preserve uses at the popular beach that could cost nearly $1.5 million.
Phase 1 would involve bringing in 1,000 cubic yards of sand as well as snow fencing along the length of the beach behind the crest of the dune, along planting beach grass. A gated beach access for emergencies would be created to the north, and the three existing pedestrian paths would be preserved. The concession building housing Liam's would be abandoned, and the food service moved into a trailer. A walk-in freezer, dumpster, and picnic area would be relocated, and eight parking spaces would be removed.
Phase 2 would see 30,000 cubic yards deployed for dune enhancement and many changes: two new trailers for rest rooms, two units for administration, relocation of rinse stations and the gazebo, and the loss of 130 parking spaces.
Pending permitting and voter approval, Phase 1 could be accomplished in the winter of 2018-19 for $516,000 to $530,000. Phase 2 could occur in the winter of 2020-21 or 2021-22 and would cost from $685,000 to $910,000. Cost estimates for neither phase include demolition charges and utility hook-ups.
A zoning bylaw change might be necessary to allow the trailers at Nauset. Although as a municipality, the town would be exempt from that requirement, several selectmen said they wanted to set a good example.
Permitting for Phase 1 will be using upland material for fill and will not require jumping through additional regulatory hoops. Fields said Phase 2 permits will be sought for the same level of approval, but if the dredging of Nauset Estuary has begun by then and the town wants to use some of that material, permitting will be more complicated.
Before demolishing the concession building and offering another location, the town will have to amend its agreement with Liam's owner John Ohman, who has the concession until 2022. Ohman was in the audience last week to hear the discussion.
Regarding the Nauset Estuary project, the selectmen discussed a letter from Orleans fisherman Steve Smith in which he suggested the town buy a dredge that Edgartown is replacing soon. Members seemed to think that such a purchase would be premature, and Town Administrator John Kelly said he'd be in touch with officials about using the county's dredge.