Meetings are held remotely. Go to eastham-ma.gov/calendar-by-event-type/16 and click on a particular meeting to read its agenda. That document will provide information about how to view and take part remotely.
Tuesday, Sept. 8
- Conservation Commission, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9
- Finance Committee, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 10
- Pre-Town Meeting, 6 p.m.
- Nauset Regional School Committee, 6 p.m.
HAWK Signal Problems
Pedestrians and cyclists are finding they can’t rely on Eastham’s new HAWK (high intensity activated crosswalk) beacon to stop traffic at the intersection of Route 6 and Governor Prence Road.
“They don’t stop,” warned a cyclist as she waited at the intersection on Monday this week.
Police Chief Adam Bohannon said, while his department has received reports of close calls at the HAWK signal, there have not been any accidents. “We have had several complaints about vehicles not being able to identify the red light in time,” he said.
Select board vice chair Aimee Eckman tested the beacon herself after seeing reports of the danger on social media. During one of four crossings, Eckman said, she had to signal to a driver to stop.
“I pointed up at the red light and they slammed on their brakes and stopped just past it,” she said.
Eckman said there is a timing issue with the device, as the walk indicator for pedestrians and the red light for vehicles change simultaneously.
Another problem, said Eckman, is the lack of signage to warn highway traffic, which approaches the crossing from around curves. “People don’t see it until they’re right on top of it,” she said.
While drivers may be familiar with Route 6, the new crossing signal is not well advertised.
“I was pretty shocked when they put it up,” said Eckman. “They didn’t put any signs up saying new traffic signal ahead.”
The beacon is under the purview of the Mass. Dept. of Transportation (DOT), whose representatives were in town last Wednesday for what was supposed to be a final inspection of the beacon before turning control of it over to the town.
Eckman said she was happy with the department’s response to the town’s concerns and noted they sent a large contingent on Wednesday, including one DOT employee who was nearly hit when he tried out the crossing beacon.
“He was part way across the first lane and someone in the middle lane just blew through at full speed,” said Eckman.
Chief Bohannon, who attended the site visit, said the town would be submitting its suggestions for improvements to the DOT.
Bohannon and Eckman had the same advice for pedestrians and cyclists, cautioning them to wait until traffic has come to a complete stop before crossing.
“Don’t take that little walk signal for granted,” said Eckman.
Visitors Pay, Dogs Stay
Eastham’s select board agreed to extend the town’s beach season for an additional week to run through Sept. 14, and to include the weekends of Sept. 19-20 and Sept. 26-27.
“We could get a fair amount of people,” said vice chair Aimee Eckman. “Their kids aren’t necessarily going back to school. They could log into their schools from here if they want to stay. We may have more people around for longer than usual.”
Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe said she was initially reluctant to extend the season but decided to support the extension.
“We might as well get the money if we’re going to get the influx of day parkers,” said Beebe. “If every other town is doing it and we’re not, we’re going to get double what we would normally get and I don’t think that’s a good plan.”
First Encounter and Cooks Brook beaches are the only town beaches that offer $25 daily parking. Beachgoers can pay at the gate. Restroom facilities at those locations will remain open until Sept. 14 and be open on the two additional weekends. Porta-potties at other beaches will remain for one extra week until Sept 14.
Recreation and Beach Director Christine Mickle recommended the extended beach season in response to neighboring towns extending their seasons.
“If we do not staff the beaches, we foresee an increased use of our beaches as they will be one of the only free beaches during that time,” wrote Mickle in her recommendation. “This increased use could result in trash/overflow and other miscellaneous issues.”
“My knee-jerk to this was that it was a greedy money grab,” said board member Jared Collins. “And then I read everything that was in there and totally agree that if the surrounding towns are doing this and we don’t we’re going to have an influx and we’re going to have a big mess to clean up.”
The extended beach season for people will not impact the start of the dog beach season, as the four-legged sand sniffers will be allowed on beaches starting the day after Labor Day.
Town Meeting Quorum Reduced
Just 100 voters will constitute a quorum for the Sept. 26 annual town meeting. The select board voted to reduce the requirement, as allowed under temporary legislation passed earlier this summer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bill would have allowed the board to reduce the quorum to just 10 percent of the existing level, which for Eastham was 219.
“We could go down around 20-some, which is ridiculous,” said vice chair Aimee Eckman. “I can’t imagine we’d get that few, but I don’t even want to set the bar that low.”
Chair Jamie Rivers expected the 100 number would be easily achieved. “I think we’re still going to exceed it,” she said.
Eckman noted there would already be about 50 voters in attendance, between the boards, committees, and meeting workers.
“I think we’re going to be OK. I think a lot of people are really passionate about a lot of this stuff,” said board member Jared Collins. “And I think that hopefully people will see we’re doing all we can to make this as safe as humanly possible. I applaud everyone involved for that.”
Town meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 26, will be held outdoors on the football field at Nauset Regional High School. —Linda Culhane