WELLFLEET — It’s taken a few years, but the Wellfleet Marina Advisory Committee hopes soon to be ready with some recommendations for changing the town’s parking policies to help resolve the annual summer crunch in the harbor area. Charging for parking is one of the options being considered.
One key change would be converting 24 spots currently designated for cars with boat trailers in the middle of the marina lot to 72 regular vehicle parking spots. The lot would still have 58 slots for trailer parking near the guard rail, which fulfills a requirement set by the state.
The idea to convert some of the trailer parking was floated by the committee’s vice chair, David Stamatis.
“I believe 58 trailer spots is ample for the day boaters that come,” Stamatis said. The addition of 72 parking spaces for cars, he said, would be a benefit to all the slip holders, who would no longer have to fight for a parking spot during the busy months.
A handful of committee members plan to gather at the lot before the panel’s December meeting to get an on-the-ground look at what Stamatis is proposing.
Chair Joe Aberdale expects the group to come up with a recommendation on its feasibility.
“I think then we will be ready to nail it down to something final,” Aberdale said.
This isn’t the first study of parking the town has done. A parking task force, on which Aberdale served, looked at parking in both the marina and the commercial zone three years ago and came up with a sole recommendation.
“That was that the town needed to look at off-site parking with a shuttle bus that would help alleviate the demand at the marina for parking for both boaters and the public,” Aberdale said. “The recommendation was that the shuttle would swing down Commercial Street, passing the shops all the way to the marina and back, servicing the bulk of the commercial area.”
The parking task force forwarded that recommendation to the select board. “They didn’t act on it,” Aberdale said.
Aberdale suggested that the recommendation for a shuttle bus be presented again as part of the parking plan now being developed.
Other parking-related issues must still be hammered out, such as whether to charge for parking, which is currently free. Committee member Kevin Coakley pointed out that the $25 fee charged for parking in the lot during OysterFest weekend in October brought in $23,000.
“Imagine how much you could make in a summer if you had fee parking,” Coakley said. “The marina is a gold mine.”
Proceeds from marina-related activities go into the town’s marina enterprise fund.
Select board member John Wolf, who serves as liaison to the marina advisory committee, said he has lobbied his colleagues to adopt paid parking in the past.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned the ‘high cost’ of free parking,” Wolf said. “So far, I’ve gotten no place, but I’m prepared to do it again.”
One of the biggest challenges is figuring out who will monitor the parking lot and enforce regulations. The police dept. may not have the staff to enforce parking rules. One board member asked whether enforcement could be the responsibility of marina staff.
“I would hope not,” said Harbormaster Will Sullivan. “I’d like to focus our staff on the marina operation.”
As part of producing a marine management plan, the advisory committee has been directed by select board Vice Chair Michael DeVasto to put together a needs assessment. Members of the advisory committee have cited shortcomings there at past meetings, such as the poor condition of the concrete docks, dock cleats that are not securely bolted, and safety hazards like nails protruding from the wood dock flooring, which is now curling up.
Coakley, who runs a charter boat, complained about the awarding of shellfish grants without any input from the marina committee. The location of the grants can make it difficult for boats to safely navigate, he said.
Aberdale agreed, saying his board had discussed how crowded the channel was becoming due to shellfish grants. He asked Wolf to keep the committee informed “and to make provision for us to have a seat at the table when those discussions are had.”