EASTHAM — The Rock Harbor Capital Projects Committee voted on Jan. 11 to accept “design number two” for a harbormaster’s office, a shed-like, 563-square-foot building on eight-foot pilings.
“I like it,” said committee member Jacqui Beebe, Eastham’s town administrator. “I think it’s going to work for us, and I think we’ll be able to still keep its functionality and make it attractive.”
The first design for the structure, a 594-square-foot office with 1,297 square feet of ramps, decks, and landing, sited just north of the boat ramp overlooking the docks, was opposed by a group called the Rock Harbor Alliance (RHA) after it was presented last September. The group objected to the building’s design, scale, and location, and were concerned about increased activity at the harbor.
Since that time, the committee worked to alter the building’s design and location to make the project more palatable to the RHA. In addition to reducing the overall size of the building, the committee moved the site to a spot north of the parking lot where the current harbormaster shed is located.
In a letter dated Jan. 11 addressing the new design, the RHA asked Beebe to consider decreasing the height of the building and adding an enclosure that would limit access to the space underneath it to prevent debris from accumulating and “eliminate the concern of an eyesore beneath the building.”
The committee declined to reduce the height of the building. “I honestly don’t want to go any lower than we’ve gone,” said Beebe. As for the space beneath it, she said, “To make that understory not accessible at all would be a real waste of the underside of the building.”
Though the RHA letter stated that the group viewed the new design and northward relocation of the building as significant improvements, it asked that the town “reconsider the wisdom of spending $1,300,000 to build a Harbormaster office building to house three staff members in this tenuous environment. We will continue our partnership with the town with the intent of being a positive influence on both current and future plans for Rock Harbor.”
Shana Brogan, the town’s projects and procurement director, noted that the 2018 Annual Town Meeting had approved $1.3 million for the whole project, which includes the replacement of docks and floats and building the walkway to the parking areas.
“They will continue as individual members and, perhaps, as a collective to ask us to minimize the development of the harbor for both environmental and aesthetic concerns,” said Beebe. “They just want less. Less is more for this group.”
While Harbormaster Scott Richards said the new design was functional as an office, he found the view from the approximate height of the office to be restricted compared to the earlier site adjacent to the water.
“The building itself would serve every purpose,” Richards said. “My concern now is, [due to] the cedar trees there and the height of the building being shorter, you’re not allowed to see over the bank where the slips are closest to the building.”
The project’s next steps will include a landscaping plan and bringing the building design process far enough along to move forward with permitting.
“I think this is a good compromise for all groups involved here,” said committee member Jared Collins. “As long as it works for staff functionally and we’ve moved it as much as we could for the abutters and all that, it seems to me we’re in good shape on this.”