Liam’s to be Demolished After Orleans Selectmen Terminate Lease

ORLEANS – A popular snack shack which has operated for nearly three decades at Nauset Beach in Orleans will be demolished after severe erosion from an early March nor’easter left it on the edge of the dune.

Acting as park commissioners, selectmen voted Monday to end the lease with restaurant owner John Ohman and begin an emergency restoration of the dune.

The storm tore away 40 feet of dune in front of the building during the storm, leaving it exposed to the ocean.

A structural engineer found substantial damage to the building, which allowed the town to terminate the lease on building, which had been occupied by Liam’s for nearly three decades.

The town has been granted an emergency declaration by the state to restore the dune without permits, but all sand and grass must be in place by April 2.

Part of their plan is to demolish the snack shack, move the gazebo, and remove the exposed sewer system and asphalt from around Liam’s.

Ohman said he is not ready to let the Liam’s brand go.

“I think the town of Orleans loves us,” Ohman said. “I think it’s overwhelming. I’ve gotten thousands of emails from the townspeople of Orleans about the Nature of what we will do next.”

Ohman said he does not believe a new location will be ready for the summer, but that another Liam’s should be coming soon.

“I have a great desire to continue the Liam’s legacy of onion rings and fresh seafood at Nauset Beach or nearby,” he said.

Ohman said he had already come to the realization that this outcome was inevitable.

“It’s not anybody else’s business but Mother Nature,” he said. “I really believe that this was coming. This was global warming. This was my turn.”

Ohman said he could see the water getting closer and closer over his 28 years at the Nauset Beach location.

“I’m afraid that Cape Cod is going to become a series of Islands in my lifetime,” he said.

Before the meeting, Ohman had offered a plan to truck in sand that could be placed in front of the building, allowing the restaurant to survive for one more year.

“John (Ohman) thinks this is the best way to keep Liam’s going,” said Attorney John Kanaga.

The plan would have had enough sand brought in from Chatham to create a 10-foot buffer in front of the restaurant.

“The hurdle is time, but it would require the town to move on the permitting,” Kanaga said.

The town was looking to offer several options, ranging from creating a mobile food service, to terminating the lease.

Any amendment to the lease would have needed state approval.

Town officials said repairing the building could take 6 to 9 months and cost around $100,000.

Orleans has already received approval to fill in the hole once the building is taken down.

The meeting began with Park Commission Chairman Alan McLennen discussing the history of erosion at the beach.

“Nauset Beach has been changing for centuries. It used to be a mile eastward from where it is today,” he said.

“Nature is changing,” said McLennen, who noted the beach has lost 80 feet since 2016.

Town officials have been working for years to extend the life of Nauset Beach.

“The weakest point was the area between the administration building and Liam’s,” McLennen said.

In 2016, the Woods Hole Group gave Orleans a plan to step back the buildings from the eroding bluff.

This year’s winter storms have greatly accelerated the time when that would need to be done.

By BRIAN MERCHANT & MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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