Falmouth Officials Consider Opening up More Beach Parking

FALMOUTH – The Select Board in Falmouth is considering opening up more beach parking.

Board member Samuel Patterson suggested that parking could be expanded at Falmouth Heights Beach, Surf Drive Beach, and on Mill Road.

“If these beaches are not overpopulated and there are ways to add spaces, it would be nice if we could,” said board member Douglas Brown.

Falmouth beaches currently have a number of policies in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 including requiring groups to be 12 feet apart to allow six feet of walking space on either side, and 50 percent reduced capacity at beach parking lots.

Beach staff members are not restricting drop-offs, bike, or pedestrian access.

Health Agent Scott McGann noted that the town receives complaints about overcrowding at Old Silver and Chapoquoit Beaches.

“It is hard to keep some of the smaller beaches with large amounts of parking socially distant, I think it depends on the beach whether additional parking can be handled,” said McGann.

Board member Douglas Jones added that the town has also received complaints about the Shining Sea Bikeway, with users of the path pointing out that some bikers and pedestrians are not wearing masks.

If the board decides to expand parking, McGann said it would be best to do so on a case-by-case basis.

Though he did not oppose expanded parking, Assistant Town Manager Peter Johnson-Staub said the board needs to consider the current state of the beaches.

“There is widespread noncompliance with social distancing requirements at the beaches as of now,” Johnson-Staub said.

“It is certainly worse at Old Silver, but I think it is pretty significant at many of the beaches. At Falmouth Heights, there is fairly frequent noncompliance with social distancing. I know it is a tricky balance, as outdoors is safer than indoors, but I wanted to make sure that is in your minds as you consider adjusting parking.”

Acting Beach Superintendent Margaret Clayton echoed Johnson-Staub’s concerns.

“There is frequent noncompliance, and I’m concerned if we open it up, we will have more frequent noncompliance,” Clayton said.

Beach sticker sales are also down in the town as well.

“We have sold about 9,600 resident and taxpayer stickers,” continued Clayton.

“That is lower than usual, but I think a promising number in terms of the interest people have in accessing our beaches for mental health, physical health and an idea of summer.”

Clayton said that in a regular year the town would have sold between 11,000 and 12,000 stickers at this time.

Before making a decision on the expanded parking, the board agreed to gather beach usage data from the July 4th holiday weekend.

“I’d be happy to gather information and come back,” said Clayton.

“We’ll see what the regular usage looks like after the Fourth.”

The board agreed to wait until it’s meeting on Monday, July 13 to make any further decisions regarding expanded beach parking.

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the CapeCod.com News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.

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