EASTHAM — The three town-owned landings — Hemenway, Salt Pond, and Collins — along with Rock Harbor, Town Cove, and Nauset Marsh all need fixing, according to a draft harbor and waterways management plan to be presented to the select board Feb. 24.
Planners didn’t just find badly degraded conditions at the town’s waterfront access spots. They documented the unmet demand for docking facilities and the potential for economic growth — particularly at Rock Harbor, where the waiting list for berths has more than 100 people on it.
“This wasn’t just a bunch of friends and neighbors looking at the landings trying to figure out what we needed,” harbor planning committee member Robert Bruns said last week. “We had professional scientists and engineers working on these things, and we found out what was burning and what could wait. We found out really important things that we were able to highlight in the plan.”
Count Collins Landing among the “burning.”
The Woods Hole Group (WHG), which conducted an engineering and environmental assessment, gave the landing a C — the worst rating — for capacity, condition, and public safety. The Eastham shore of Rock Harbor received a C for coastal resilience.
“What we observed at Collins Landing is that the existing infrastructure, the retaining wall, and the ramp are all in desperate need of some improvement,” WHG’s Joel Kubick told a planning forum in July, noting that there were cracks in the wall.
“The most degraded portions of the wall are not on town-owned property,” the draft management plan states. “The WHG noted the importance of identifying opportunities to work with adjacent land owners (private, federal, state, and others) to improve resilience of municipal assets, including those found at Collins Landing.” The landing, primarily used for commercial shellfishing, also needs storm water improvements, better parking, and better accessibility.
The assessment discovered that storm water collection structures do not exist at Collins Landing or Rock Harbor and are limited at Hemenway Landing and Salt Pond. Storm water from Route 6 flows into the pond through drainage structures.
“This lack of storm water management could result in the direct discharge of sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants which could impair water quality,” the draft plan states. The consultants found that parking and maneuverability of cars, boats, and trailers is limited at all three town-owned landings.
Rock Harbor’s Potential
The draft report is more than a catalog of woes. It’s also a road map showing how to improve the accessibility and usability of town landings while boosting the economics and culture of the town.
Recommendations include a study of Rock Harbor to ascertain the potential customer base that could support businesses such as shellfish wholesalers and distributors, a marine supply store for recreational and commercial boaters, eco-tourism, food trucks, and other mobile businesses. All that would have to take into account restrictions on parking, road configurations, and the desire to preserve the character of the neighborhood.
With nearly 110 people on the waiting list for berthing on the Eastham side of Rock Harbor, the draft plan’s recommendations include a look at increasing dockage both under existing conditions and by dredging, extending the jetty, and installing a bulkhead. Public comments about Rock Harbor’s potential collected during several public forums include building a footbridge to connect the Eastham and Orleans shores and using the harbor parking lot in the shoulder season for events. One speaker even suggested building a concert venue for live music.
The demand for kayak and small vessel storage is greater than the supply at all three landings. The plan suggests designating areas at Hemenway, which has the most capacity for parking of all the landings and a more solid infrastructure, for trailered and non-trailered watercraft to reduce conflicts between users. There could be separate loading-unloading and storage areas, parking areas, and launching areas.
In addition to the economic and dockage analyses, the draft report recommends developing a feasibility study of Collins Landing to allow improved access to Town Cove, an existing conditions plan for all town landings and beaches, and a dredging management plan for Eastham’s waterways, with a focus on Rock Harbor. Objectives are meant to be met within the next five to seven years.
Following adoption of the plan by the select board, a nine-member harbor implementation committee will be appointed. Its stakeholders will begin identifying funding sources and helping to get projects under way. Conservation Agent Shana Brogan said the first meeting would be held in May or June.
“I look forward to working on implementing this,” Bruns said, “making sure that we get something out of it besides a report.”