Seven years ago voters sat sweating in the Nauset Regional High School gym for a rare June special town meeting that lasted four hours and resulted once again in a failed attempt to get Eastham voters to approve a municipal water system.
Public water had been rejected about a half dozen times in Eastham by then, despite the fact that several home wells around the dump had tested positive for 1,4 Dioxane (a probable carcinogen) and volatile organic compounds, forcing the town to quietly supply bottled water to a few residents.
But the proponents of town water did not give up. The next year, in May 2014, voters said yes to public water without a word of debate.
Alongside the skepticism about the need, there were worries about increased development at the edge of a national park. Now all of us on the Outer Cape have an opportunity to see that there might be something good in it.
Eastham’s center used to be on a small road that wound through a village. Then that road turned into a four-lane speedway. Business owners responded with multiple curb cuts and big open parking lots to draw in motorists.
But Eastham was still there. Now the town is working to get beyond that drive-through identity, with incentives for better landscaping and more pedestrian walkways.
One reason for the town’s vitality is that 48 percent of its residences are year-round — by far the highest percentage of any Outer Cape town. Business opportunities are relatively bountiful in Eastham, and are likely to improve with the recent town purchase of the T-Time property. A committee is now formulating ideas on how to use the vacant 11-acre lot, a former golf driving range on Route 6, for economic and community renewal.
Town water opened up real possibilities for housing. The nearly completed Village at Nauset Green will provide 27 one-bedroom, 31 two-bedroom, and seven three-bedroom apartments available for households with varying incomes — a total of 65 units.
Town water has also made it easier for restaurants to do business in Eastham. In the last three years four new places have opened and all of them are year-round. Good Eats on 6 at 3620 State Highway opened in 2019. The Brickhouse Restaurant started the year before. Brine and Joey’s Joint were born in 2017. Soon Provincetown residents may be zipping down Route 6 to have dinner in February, rather than the reverse.
Take note, neighbors, an Eastham revival is underway.