Annual Town Report Tells Community's Story by the Numbers

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Town Meeting , Orleans news

The transfer station was less busy in 2017 than 2016, according to the Annual Town Report. ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS Fewer Orleans residents died in 2017 than in the previous two years, an even 100 as opposed to 114 in both 2015 and 2016.

That's one of the facts in the Annual Town Report for year 2017, now available at town hall and worth a look-through before the May 7 town meeting.

One of the 100 deaths in 2017 was that of Jean Finch, the founder of Cape Cod's first skateboard park, which is still located at Nauset Regional Middle School and in the process of being updated. The Annual Report is dedicated to Finch, the co-founder of Nauset Together We Can, who “leaves behind a legacy of patience, strength and action to work together and also have fun while doing it.”

While the number of deaths dropped, so did births. Fifteen were tallied in 2017 following 29 in 2015 and 26 in 2016.

There's plenty of financial information in the report, including salaries and other compensation for town employees; a record of action at the year's town meetings and elections; and reports from the boards, committees, and departments. Here's where to go to find out how many tanning salons the board of health approved (one), how much the Cape Light Compact says it saved Orleans customers ($364,520), and how many residents were served by the senior center (1,242).

Most registered voters don't have a party preference (2,938) compared with 1,381 Democrats and 940 Republicans. Thirty-seven support other parties.

Department reports tell stories by the number. There were no permits issued in 2017 for new multi-family residences, but there were 15 permits for swimming pools at a total value of nearly $1 million. Only one permit was issued for an accessory dwelling, a housing diversity option drawing increased interest if not yet practical application. Residential alterations were where the action was: 368 permits for a total value of about $9.23 million. Fourteen demolition and three partial demolition permits round out the picture of construction activity.

Speaking of housing, the historical commission noted that “Each year, the town of Orleans loses one or more historic structures that are visible representations of our rich heritage through demolition.” It calls for “judicious establishment of one or more historic districts to protect our most valuable historic resources that give our town its identity.”

Customers of the town transfer station threw away and recycled less material in 2017 compared to 2016. Solid waste dropped from 2,054 tons to 1,984 and recyclables from 2,056 tons to 1,698. About the only area showing an increase was mattresses: 681 in 2017 versus 645 in 2016.

If you had trouble getting to the beach last year, you weren't alone. The Nauset Beach lot was full 14 days and the lot at Skaket Beach was full for 49 days. Protected species of birds had a good summer with 107 pairs of least terns, 21 roseate terns, 19 piping plovers, and two American oyster catcher pairs. Three diamond back terrapin nests were identified.

Snow Library was jamming them in as well. “The full and overflowing parking lot at the library is a testament to the library's popularity as a cultural center and the interest of our community in intellectual exploration and popular entertainment,” its report states. Visitors numbered 169,541 and 181,684 items were borrowed; 548 programs drew a total of 14,568 attendees.

Some of the reports are dry, while others are lively. The Fourth of July Celebration Committee ends on an upbeat note: the traditional Rock Harbor fireworks show will be on July 1, with a rain date of July 5.

The Annual Town Report for 2017 can be found online at