HARWICH — Thanks to the generosity of two unrelated private donors, the town of Harwich now holds the keys for a new police motorcycle and a council on aging van. Selectmen voted last week to accept both gifts and to extend the town’s thanks.
The senior center van was provided by Jay Kavanaugh of Cape Destinations. Council on Aging Director Emily Mitchell said her department leases two vans from the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. The larger of the two, which carries 12 passengers, has been “on its last legs for a while now,” she said, and recently went to the DPW for an inspection. The diagnosis was conclusive, and terminal.
“The frame was completely gone in several places,” she said. “So we had to take it off the road very quickly.” The van was seven or eight years old and was due to be replaced in less than a year.
That put the council on aging in an “unexpected bind,” Mitchell said. When the regional transit authority told her that they had no additional vans available, Mitchell called Kavanaugh and tentatively asked him if he could provide a van.
“He said, yes, whatever we needed,” Mitchell said. Cape Destinations immediately signed over the title to a 14-passenger bus, which is even larger than the one it replaces and still has a wheelchair lift, “which is obviously important to us,” she said. The town can keep the van as long as it needs to, she said.
Without Kavanaugh’s generosity, “I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” Mitchell said. Both COA vans are regularly used to shuttle seniors to local grocery stores and libraries and provide transportation to and from events at the senior center. They also make weekly trips to stores in Hyannis and on the Upper Cape.
“We would’ve had to limit or cancel some of those trips,” Mitchell said. The Cape Destinations van made its first trip on Friday, helping volunteers distribute food from the Family Pantry to 45 local clients. Mitchell said she and the clients of the senior center are “immensely grateful” for Cape Destination’s gift.
Though the town now owns the van, it will likely offer to return it to Cape Destinations once the regional transit authority provides a new vehicle in June.
In an unrelated act of generosity, Victor Petkauskos has donated a 2013 Harley Davidson motorcycle to the Harwich Police Department, one of a number he has given to Cape and Islands police departments. Petkauskos is an avid motorcyclist and owns Victor-Brandon Corporation, a paving company on Nantucket.
In a letter to selectmen, Police Chief David Guillemette said that Petkauskos has given used police motorcycles to various communities. Having a second motorcycle would help the department manage traffic and crowds associated with special events around town.
“It would also be available for increased traffic enforcement operations and emergency response in areas that are difficult to access with cruisers,” the chief wrote. The Harwich Police has the Cape’s only certified police motorcycle instructor, Neil Nolan, and “the addition of a second motor would provide him with a motor while training Harwich officers and conducting group trainings, exercises and demonstrations with the Harwich Police and the regional Cape motor unit,” Guillemette wrote.
The cost associated with registering, insuring, outfitting and maintaining the new motorcycle is expected to be minimal and can be covered by the existing budget, the chief added. The motorcycle was expected to be delivered to the department this week.