First Sea Camps Public Forum Serves Plenty To Digest

By: Bronwen Walsh

Rheanna Hastings and her youngest of five sons, five-month-old Dimitrios, at Saturday’s forum on the Sea Camps property. BRONWEN WALSH PHOTO

BREWSTER – An estimated 400 people visited the former Cape Cod Sea Camps bay property Saturday to evaluate the discovery phase findings and ideas for community programming there and on the pond property.

Town officials and Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture design team members spoke with residents, inviting them to review a series of information stations and place stickers indicating their favorite activities among those suggested by the vision planning, bay and pond property committees. Volunteers also invited attendees to write Post-It Note comments.

“Your participation is critical to shaping this property,” said Elizabeth Randall, the consultant’s project principle. “Come with an open mind. Let us know what you like. We want to hear from you.”

For those who could not attend, the presentation is on the town’s website on the Sea Camps project page. There, residents can watch a video introducing the pond property or, under “First Community Forum about Future of Sea Camps Properties,” review discovery materials.

Vehicles lined up early to park at the bay property, where residents strolled the grounds much of the day until heavy rain put a damper on visits. Two hundred signed up for the 10 a.m. to noon session, and about 100 more opted for a 1 to 3 p.m. session.

“Our residents have been waiting almost two years for this,” said Amanda Bebrin, chair of the bay property planning committee. “Hopefully people are happy.”

Select board member Mary Chaffee called Saturday’s turnout “a great start” to the six-part public forum process. “People are excited and looking forward. Today is the ‘fantasy day’ — no price tags,” just ideas.

“This is so great,” said the select board’s Kari Hoffmann. “It’s brought the community together for a common purpose. There are so many smiling faces and such a diverse crowd, families, elders, people from all walks of life.”

Seven poster board information stations examined the vision and planning processes; “put a flag in it” priorities; potential future activities; a building inventory; ecological conditions; history and inspiration; and “on deck for 2023.”

Residents were invited to put red stickers next to the program descriptions they liked most for the bay property and blue stickers for their top preferences on pond property programs. The design team also supplied stacks of sticky notes, asking attendees to share their most memorable or inspirational places in town.

One section asked residents, “What stories do you want these places to tell? What places in Brewster or elsewhere do you think we should look at for inspiration in planning these properties and why? Describe your memorable places on a sticky note below.”

An especially popular section asked attendees to rank the recreation programs they would most like to see offered.

Another station outlined the 92 buildings on the property, many of which were built in the 1940s and are not winterized. There are 50 cabins and 43 other structures that were subsequently moved onto the site from the former Monomoy School.

Some of the buildings may end up providing deed-restricted affordable or seasonal housing clustered in certain areas, said Maggie Spade-Aguilar, a member of the affordable housing trust who liaisons with the vision planning committee now chaired by Sharon Tennstedt. “Topography is so important.”

Potential bay property partners like Brewster Recreation, MassAudubon, YMCA and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History garnered lots of red-dot endorsements
A forthcoming survey on the town’s website will help synthesize some of the feedback, and a second public forum compiling residents’ feedback will be held, tentatively, toward the end of August, Randall said.