EASTHAM — The town has mapped its beaches, ponds, and landings and their parking areas with an eye to allowing socially distanced fun this summer.
The exercise revealed that “we have a lot more available sand space than parking,” Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe told the select board Monday. “We have 20 percent of the parking needed for beach capacity.” Fortunately, many beachgoers walk, bike in, or are dropped off.
Eastham “has the luxury of a couple of really substantial beaches,” Beebe said. First Encounter has eight paths to the water and 380,000 square feet at mean high tide, with “elongated” parking that encourages separation. “But at some of the beaches, the area of sand isn’t large and the parking is even smaller,” she said.
Beebe and Christine Mickle, director of the recreation and beach department, used the data to recommend that most beaches become sticker-only, with First Encounter and Cooks Brook open to both day parking pass purchasers as well as sticker holders. Stickers won’t be required until June 20. Parking will be reduced at most bay beaches and limited at public ponds.
Mail-in applications for taxpayer and visitor stickers are encouraged. The town sticker office will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 12 to 14 and the two weekends following that. Details and forms are on the town’s website.
Sanitation is paramount as the season opens. The town has added daily cleaning and sanitizing to its contract for portable restrooms at beaches and high-activity recreation areas, as well as a weekly deep-clean and treatment with a fogger. That applies to permanent restrooms as well, which will also see some restrictions to guarantee separation. Handwashing sinks will be available at the permanent restrooms, and the portables will have external sanitizer supplies.
The town is bringing on three additional summer employees who will travel among sites “in vehicles stocked with educational information, masks, and sanitizing supplies,” the plan notes. They are charged with reminding people about the need to maintain distance.
While beach plans look promising, Beebe said, “the sad part is that, after many discussions, we can’t figure out a way to do the morning recreation program for kids safely. I feel horrible, and I know Christine does. It would be very difficult to keep kids busy and safe at the same time without doing field trips, taking buses, and stuff we normally do.”
Beebe and Mickle considered options for continuing swimming lessons, but realized that, “for young kids, it’s a very hands-on task,” the town administrator said. “It doesn’t work for this year.”
“Playgrounds are going to be open,” Beebe said, noting the need to wipe down equipment. “I hope everyone travels with wipes,” she said, “but we’ll have some, too.”
Mickle added a more few bright notes. Her department will continue handing out activity bags for children every Wednesday, food card and pizza raffles, and two well-distanced events per week for families starting the week of July 6. These could include picnics, social distance dances, and family movie nights on the Field of Dreams. It is hoped yoga on the beach will be back, too.