ORLEANS — It's a pretty little stretch of sand on Cape Cod Bay, with a big parking lot close by. And you don't need a sticker to use it.
The shoreline at Rock Harbor is one of the town's many waterside attractions popular with local residents and visitors alike. Balancing those demands has the board of selectmen contemplating some sort of resident parking sticker that could give priority to those who live here.
“My thought had been,” Selectman Mefford Runyon told his colleagues, meeting as park commissioners Aug. 22, “that we create a parking sticker for residents that covers everything: beach parking, town landing parking, Rock Harbor parking, Goose Hummock parking (at the town landing), and that little sliver out by the Captain Linnell House. There are a bunch of places where we could require a residential sticker in order to park.”
The idea, he said, “is more in context of access to water for residents, and a little bit of fighting back against people parking down at Priscilla (landing) and Rock Harbor and Captain Linnell and going to the beaches for free. Before we can start talking about other water access issues, parking is where we have to start.”
“You're envisioning this as something around town landings and beaches,” Selectman Mark Mathison told Runyon. “You're not looking for something that combines a beach sticker with a sticker for the dump.”
“Just parking,” Runyon said. “We could make this a resident sticker only, or something a non-resident could buy.”
Town Administrator John Kelly said the park commissioners “could do a parking program for residents,” charging a fee for a resident parking permit sticker that would allow one to go everywhere in town. “That would generate revenue to pay for an enforcement officer,” he said. He added that the town “could put a kiosk at Rock Harbor and charge people to park there. We're one of the only towns that don't charge” at such facilities. Mathison suggested that any kiosk at Rock Harbor be set up so the commercial fleet “could get their parking validated and not pay a charge.”
Selectman Kevin Galligan said people coming to towns to use their facilities are accustomed to paying for the privilege. “There's a place in Florida where people pay $7.50 an hour,” he said. “Whatever we do, we need to be realistic about the timing,” possibly bringing the idea before town meeting next May for implementation the following year.
The board voted unanimously to have Kelly and department heads develop for discussion a resident parking program including enforcement options and details about parking and uses at town landings.
“Personally,” said Selectman Chairman Alan McClennen, “I'd be interested in what are the issues, where are the issues, and does this begin to solve the problem.”
Kelly noted that the process would include a public hearing, and Mathison asked the shellfish and waterways advisory committee be involved in the review as well.