WELLFLEET — For those who don’t own property here, the chances of finding a parking spot at an oceanside beach have just gotten smaller.
The select board voted unanimously on June 16 to designate Lecount Hollow Beach as residents-only until Labor Day by restricting access to parking.
Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when the town monitors the lot, only those with resident stickers will be allowed in.
Only full-time and part-time resident taxpayers can apply for resident stickers.
“If we are really busy and we have access issues, I think with Covid-19 and the sort of stress that local residents and taxpayers are under, we owe them the access to that resource,” board member Michael DeVasto said.
DeVasto originally proposed the idea of a residents-only beach to the select board a week before the vote, on June 9.
When he brought up the issue again on June 16, chair Janet Reinhart said, “This is the first time we have actually gotten letters all in support of something rather than people being mad.”
Wellfleet Beach Administrator Suzanne Grout Thomas gave some advice to the board about how to handle a residents-only parking lot.
DeVasto had first suggested that the restriction be limited to certain hours. But Grout Thomas recommended keeping the residents-only restriction in force all day. That way, she said, it would prevent confrontations between parking monitors and nonresidents who might show up 10 minutes early and demand to be let in.
Grout Thomas’s main concern, though, was whether Lecount Hollow Beach would be able to accommodate all of the residents who, she thought, would flock there instead of spreading out across the four town-managed ocean beaches.
During the June 16 meeting, Grout Thomas also pointed out why Lecount Hollow is the ideal beach to reserve for residents, saying, “Residents prefer Lecount’s because there is a nice break there.”
Donna McCaffery, owner of the Even’tide Resort Motel & Cottages in Wellfleet, commented, “So it really isn’t about safety then, it’s just that residents want their own beach?”
Grout Thomas responded, “They would prefer their own beach without competing with people who are visiting here for a parking space.”
Even with the parking lot at Lecount’s restricted to taxpayers, residents are still not guaranteed isolation from outsiders.
Board of health member Janet Drohan pointed out that a taxpayer could have out-of-town friends and family as guests, and as long as they use a car with a resident sticker they would have free access to Lecount Hollow.
Another health concern is that nonresident taxpayers often travel on and off Cape every week. They would thus be potentially as likely to spread the coronavirus as a day-tripper would.
A home owner on Ocean View Drive, who would not give his name, expects a surge in his business of allowing cars to park in his driveway, thanks to the scarcity of parking spaces for visitors.
“I just try to help out, because all these people would not go to the beach without parking,” he said.
He has about 14 spots, he said, and charges $40 for the day.
“It’s particularly useful now because they shut down White Crest [to visitors],” he said. “That’s where most of the people went.”
Earlier this year, the select board agreed to stop selling day passes at White Crest Beach, in another move to limit the number of people able to enjoy the town’s public beaches.
The Ocean View Drive parking entrepreneur added that he thought the closure of Lecount Hollow to visitors was “terrible.”
Grout Thomas later told the Independent that, at the end of the summer, she will review how the residents-only beach played out and decide if the town should make the designation permanent.