WELLFLEET — Richard Blakeley said he’s ashamed of his behavior, which led to him being arrested for disturbing the peace and malicious destruction of property on Friday, March 26.
“I was really upset,” said Blakeley, 60, outside the home his family has owned since World War II. The house is next to the Cape Cod Rail Trail parking lot off Lecount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet. The state Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) began renovating the lot on March 22.
What’s upsetting Blakeley is that the renovation, which involves building a fence and a dedicated bike lane, will stop him from using the parking lot to get to the shed he and his father built in 1997. The shed is where he stores shellfish and gear. He will instead, he said, have to create a driveway through his mother’s garden and over his septic system, which may destroy both.
“I can bring a machine in and dig up my yard, but my leaching field is back there,” he said. “And right now my mom is in her late 80s and she wants to see her lilacs bloom one more time. I’m just asking for the access I’ve always had. I use it 8 to 10 times a day. I’m safe, I’m careful, I’m always on the lookout for bikers.”
His criminal case was continued until June. Philippe Rispoli, who owns the PB Boulangerie Bistro across the street, and Rispoli’s wife, Eliza Cox, who is a lawyer with Nutter, McClennen & Fish, saw him get arrested, Blakeley said. They have hired the Boston criminal defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr., who was James “Whitey” Bulger’s lawyer, to represent him, Blakeley said. Cox would not confirm this, except to say that Blakeley is a dear friend.
DCR spokeswoman Olivia Dorrance would not answer questions about the parking lot renovation or the Blakeley case. Her only comment, by email, was, “The goal of the redesign is to create a safe path through the parking lot to the Rail Trail connection.”
DCR’s plans to extend the bike trail about two miles from Lecount Hollow Road, first to the state-owned Wellfleet Hollow Campground, and then to Route 6, has stirred controversy for years. But critics of the plan targeted the opposite end of the extension, the terminus on Route 6. The objections centered on cyclists being funneled onto the highway in a busy area south of the intersection with Main Street.
Last year, the DCR announced it would put on hold the plans to end the trail at Route 6 and invited the town to propose alternatives. Meanwhile, the state agency would renovate the parking lot at Lecount Hollow Road and pave the former railroad bed up to the campground, which the state purchased from the Paine family in 2018.
Blakeley began his protest when the work started on March 22. Daniel Boyer, a laborer working on the parking lot, called the police at 8:18 a.m that day. He described Blakeley “coming out of his house for an entire week and swearing at him and his crew while getting in their way,” stated the report written by Wellfleet Police Sgt. Paul Clark.
Boyer said he ignored the harassment until Friday morning, when Blakeley “started getting in his face while swearing at him and threatening he would ‘end him,’ ” Clark wrote.
Boyer told the police he walked away and that’s when Blakely threw a large orange traffic cone at Boyer’s vehicle. Small scratches were found on the vehicle, Clark wrote.
“I felt desperate, and I threw a cone at one of this guy’s cars,” Blakeley told the Independent.
Blakeley said DCR indicated a year ago that he would no longer be able to use the parking lot once the renovation was underway. For safety reasons, they told him, he would not be able to drive his truck through the bike lane. He said he plans to fight the agency in court.
Blakeley is not the only one upset about last week’s work. Martha Hevenor of 70 Cassick Valley Road said she objects to DCR clearing a roadway alongside the bike path near her house. That’s being done, she said, for two property owners who have used the railroad bed for access. It could have been done without widening the trail so much, in Hevenor’s view.
Hevenor said she favored the bike trail extension to Route 6. In her view, cyclists who don’t want to go on the highway won’t do it. Also, she said, her colleagues at the Cape Cod Commission (CCC), where she is a planner, worked on the Outer Cape Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and found no alternative to Route 6 for getting through that part of Wellfleet toward Provincetown.
The DCR plans call for a 12-foot-wide driveway and a 10-foot-wide bike path separated by a 5-foot buffer, with shoulders on both sides.
Hevenor, who said she was not speaking as a CCC planner, said she never joined in the attacks on the project because she didn’t want to be “that NIMBY [not in my back yard] person.” But when the trucks began clearing behind her house, she said she had to speak up. She said the DCR never notified her or other abutters about the construction start date, though the DCR website does give it as March 15, 2021.