Orleans Won't Collect Proposed Surcharge to Help Fund Patrols, Endangering Resident Access
ORLEANS - Meeting as park commissioners, the selectmen expressed dismay Wednesday at Chatham's proposal to help fund patrols of its section of Nauset Beach by adding a $65 surcharge on stickers for non-resident over-sand and self-contained vehicles.
"I'm relieved to see Chatham finally engaged and putting something forward, but the issue is it's too late - too little, too late....," said Natural Resources Manager Nate Sears. "It's March. I have a steady stream of renewals coming in...We need to reach out to them and say it's not practical or realistic to put a surcharge in effect this season."
The selectmen hope that Chatham will sign a draft agreement they sent to the town in early February that outlines Chatham's resumption of patrols of its one-mile stretch of the beach. Also, Chatham's conservation commission would need to change its order of conditions that has Orleans patrolling the full beach. All this needs to occur before the current agreement expires at the end of April.
"(So) we have a response to their letter telling them it is too late to change fees this year, and the only way the (Chatham portion of the) beach will operate is if they sign the agreement sent Feb. 7," park commissioners chair Alan McClennen said. "If the agreement isn't signed, there's no access to the beach."
Chatham's letter notes a consensus of that town's board of selectmen that Chatham will take over the patrols, and that the $65 surcharge will allow recovery of half of Chatham's costs to manage its portion of the beach.
Selectman David Currier, a longtime advocate of increased beach access, was unhappy.
"We tell Chatham quite literally to pound sand and no one goes on the Chatham section, or we charge $65," he said. "Without the $65, Chatham's beach doesn't open up this year because we're not patrolling it."
"Chatham still has the option this year of charging whatever they want for the Chatham resident sticker," Selectman Mark Mathison said later. "If they need to make up revenues, they still have options, unless they've already sent out letters."
Read more on this story in next week's Cape Cod Chronicle.