ORLEANS — The Nauset Beach retreat project, dredging at Rock Harbor, and a preschool support program were among the articles passed at the Orleans special town meeting held on Oct. 25 at Nauset Regional Middle School.
The vote on Article 7 was 224 to 81 in favor of funding Phase 2 of the beach project for $3.3 million. It is an effort to respond to erosion and prepare for more of it. It includes constructing a new 218-space parking lot at the town-owned Hubler Motel property behind the current beach parking lot.
An access road connecting the former motel to the current Nauset Beach parking lot and a septic system leach field to support the construction of a new administration building and bathroom facilities are also part of the plan.
The estimated construction cost is $4.3 million, but the town won a state grant of $1 million to help offset that.
Phase 1 of the project included constructing a large dune at the front of the beach and reconfiguring the parking lot. It was done after a tropical storm in 2017 caused heavy erosion and destroyed Liam’s at Nauset Beach, a popular seafood shack.
Article 8, a request for $580,000 for emergency shoal dredging at Rock Harbor, passed with a resounding 292-to-16 vote. That project will remove about 1,470 cubic yards of sediment to a depth of minus three feet below mean low water. The goal is to ensure safe navigation until full dredging can be completed as scheduled in the fall of 2023.
“If we don’t clear it out, we won’t be going out of that harbor except on the very highest of high tides,” said Bill Amaru of the shellfish and waterways improvement advisory committee. “There are a dozen commercial vessels that fish out of there year-round and another 20 to 25 seasonal charter boats — the largest charter boat fleet in the state of Massachusetts.”
The town meeting also voted 221 to 86 to spend $495,000 on universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds in Orleans. The measure is intended to support young families. Parents can choose any licensed pre-K provider; once it is deemed eligible, payment will be made directly to the service provider up to a maximum of $10,000 per year for each four-year-old and $5,000 per year for each three-year-old.
Similar programs have already been implemented and funded in Provincetown, Truro, Eastham, Wellfleet, Chatham, and Mashpee.