Falmouth Heights-Maravista
Neighborhood Association

Mission Statement

To preserve and improve the residential character of the Falmouth Heights and Maravista neighborhoods.  To protect and enhance our beaches, parks and other public spaces. To encourage activities that promote civic pride and the healthful and peaceful enjoyment of our neighborhoods.  To provide a forum to identify concerns affecting our neighborhoods, make relevant information available to our members, and address areas of concern with appropriate Town bodies.

Current News, Issues & Events

TO READ OLD NEWS, click on dates under “Annual Archive” (left).
ANNUAL CLEANUP HEIGHTS & MARAVISTA:  TBD, April 2019.  To volunteer, email cleanup@fhmna.org
“SPRING INTO SUMMER” SOCIAL:  TBD, June, 2019, Falmouth Yacht Club. Adult members and others Heights and/or Maravista residents considering membership are invited. Hors d’oeuvres; cash bar.
ANNUAL MEETING:  Saturday, August 4, 2018, 8:00 – 10:15 AM, Falmouth Yacht Club.  See 2017 Annual Meeting Minutes  
FALL SOCIAL:  TBA 2018. Adult members (free) and guests ($5, free if join).

Director Openings

3 Director Positions Open (all ending 8/20)
1 Director Position Open (8/19)
1 Alternate Position Open (open dates)

On Monday, June 4, 2018, the Selectmen held an Open Hearing regarding beach rules.  Because Acting Beach Superintendent Bruce Mogardo and Beach Committee Chairman Jason Chorches gave a presentation at a prior meeting, the Selectmen chose to have members of the public speak first and then have Mr. Mogardo respond.

In the end, the Selectmen approved the rules we have previously reported to you with one change, requested by Selectman Brown, to clarify that the rules are in effect at all times and not just during beach hours when a lifeguard is present, even if they would be difficult to enforce.

Most importantly for the Heights is that Mr. Mogardo is working to hire 2 additional parking lot attendants for the Heights Beach and Old Silver, as an experiment. One attendant would stay at the entrance kiosk and the other would wander along the wall to be a second set of eyes to watch the beach and to notify the closest lifeguard of any possible problems. The lifeguard would then be responsible for making decisions at his/her discretion. When the lots are full, both attendants would watch the beach from the lots.

Please also see the FHMNA Resources Page for phone numbers to put into your cell phones in case you would like to report anything not being handled by the lifeguards, or after hours.

Below is a summary of the discussion including comments from three people who spoke and Mr. Mogardo’s responses.

Paula Lichter, VP, FHMNA presented a consensus of the Board of Directors, based on our members’ comments over the years (see the full presentation here). FHMNA asked to:

  1. prohibit hard balls and kites
  2. hire an extra lifeguard to supervise just the beach, not the water
  3. create a system to evaluate and track the effectiveness of the new rules
  4. place tents in the back of each beach so they do not block anyone’s view of or path to the water
  5. improve the beach rules’ signs and find a way to distribute them to all beach goers
  6. enforce the Town leash law and beach policy of no dogs from May to Oct, especially after the lifeguards leave the beach
  7. prohibit music which can be heard over 15’ from the source.

In addition to the prepared statement, Ms. Lichter asked if phone numbers for the Beach Superintendent, Beach House and police be added to the signs.  She spoke with Mr. Mogardo after the meeting adjourned about possible ways to make this happen without having to redo all the signs.

Dan Shearer, member of the Beach Committee, speaking only for himself, is against allowing tents of 10’ x 10’ which can “hold 4 chairs and a queen sized bed”. He was in favor of 5’ x 7’ or smaller canopy tents sold by Ocean State Job Lot.  He also noted there are specific beaches where fisherman and paddle boarders congregate after hours.  Mr. Braga read the rule that these are prohibited only during beach hours.

Another woman seconded the concern about dogs on the beach.

Mr. Mogardo’s responses:

a.     to hard balls and kites:  if it puts people in danger or jeopardizes safety, “we stop it” and “we don’t fly kites on a beach full of people”.

b.    to tent size:  “that’s up to you”.  Most other towns don’t specify size.

c.    to tent placement at the back of the beach: “we would suggest that anyway” and also that they would not be placed where they would obstruct handicapped access.

Mr. Mogardo also suggested handing out the rules with each sticker bought at time of sale, but there was no resolution, other than signage, for notifying those who do not buy a sticker.

Rather than write down every nuance of each rule, the Beach Committee and Department chose to limit the rules and train the lifeguards to use their discretion.

Selectmen Braga said she was not in favor of “hard and fast rules” but rather wanted to allow lifeguards’ discretion.  Selectmen Jones said he wants “this to be the beach committee’s decision” because they have “been appointed to make these recommendations” and that the Selectmen should approve the “advice of our advisory committees” and “see how it goes”.  He added that people should be respectful of people around them.

Mr. Mogardo said they were open to suggestions for change. They wanted to “strike a balance between peoples’ rights, peoples’ safety and the privilege of having fun”.  He added that he receives more complaints about alcohol and dogs after 5:00 than he’s ever heard before.  Selectman Moran said the Town Manager would deal with the dog issue as he sees fit.  After hours leash laws could become a police matter.

The Selectmen will hear interim reports from the Beach Department and can “tweak” them if necessary during the season.

Watch the meeting on FCTV by scrolling to 0:39:40 through 1:03:15.

Read about the meeting in the Enterprise and the Cape Cod Times.

 

The following is an article posted online by the Falmouth Enterprise, Cape News: “Fines, Legal Action Could Be Taken Against Falmouth Sewer Holdouts” By BRAD COLE, Falmouth Enterprise online Tuesday 6/5/18.

Falmouth residents who refuse to connect to the Little Pond area sewer system will face fines and legal action.

Wastewater Superintendent Amy Lowell told selectmen at their meeting on Monday, June 4, that 26 residences in Falmouth Heights had not connected to the sewer line by the May 31 deadline.

“The good news is that 94 percent of the properties in Falmouth Heights that abut the sewer line are connected,” Ms. Lowell said. She said it was important that all property owners connect to the sewer line.”The sewer system was connected to improve Little Pond water quality,” Ms. Lowell said. “It obviously doesn’t do that until all the properties have been connected.”

In addition, she said connected homeowners have contacted her, asking what the town will do about those who have yet to connect. She said it is a matter of equity, as those who have not connected are not contributing sewer revenue to cover the cost of running the expanded sewer system.

Homeowners in the area were notified of the requirement to connect to the sewer line in June 2016. Initially given until June 2017 to connect, the May 2018 date was the result of two six-month extensions. Under the bylaw, property owners are given 90 days to connect, once notified.

“We did allow quite a bit of additional time there,” Ms. Lowell said.

She said there will be no more extensions. Homeowners who have not yet connected face a fine of $50 each day they remain unconnected to the town sewer system. “If the fine goes unpaid, the town will follow up through Falmouth District Court,” Ms. Lowell said.

Selectmen chairman Susan L. Moran asked if she had called the homeowners who have yet to connect to the sewer. Ms. Lowell said she had not. “I do not know that the town has those phone numbers available,” Ms. Lowell said. “A lot of these properties are second houses.”

She has notified the homeowners four times by mail. The first letter was sent by regular mail, the next three by certified mail. The letters were sent to the addresses on file with the town assessor, the same addresses where tax and water bills are sent.

Selectman Douglas H. Jones asked if these homeowners were paying tax and water bills, and Ms. Lowell confirmed the majority of them are. Mr. Jones argued that if people are receiving and paying those letters, they are also receiving the sewer notifications.

However, selectmen recommended trying an alternate method of communication.

“I know you’ve done your due diligence in trying to mail all these folks, but maybe try a phone call, if you can find their number,” Selectman Megan E. English Braga said.

Ms. Lowell said she would attempt to call the homeowners by telephone.

She also provided an update regarding the remainder of the Little Pond sewer service area. Property owners in Maravista and Teaticket have been able to connect to the sewers since 2017, one year after connections were made available to Falmouth Heights. As a result, they have until April 30, 2019, to connect to the sewer system.

“That deadline will not be extended again,” she said.

Approximately 450 properties, or 52 percent of the properties in the Maravista and Teaticket areas, have connected to the sewer line thus far.

Recently, many of our members have received their first semi-annual water and sewer bill and had a case of sticker shock as the bill has increased over 300%.   Most of this increase is directly attributable to connecting to town sewer which is billed at roughly twice the water bill.

Some residents thought their bill would be doubling.  This may have been a misunderstanding:  it was announced that the sewer portion of the bill would be about double the water portion.  Therefore, adding the sewer to the water actually tripled most residents’ bill.

Your water bill’s reverse side has a cost table and explanation of how the bill is calculated.  This calculation is the same for all Falmouth residents, including all residents who are hooked up to a sewer in other parts of town.  This table can be found on the Town Website.

In simple terms, your home is allocated roughly 80 gallons of water per day for which you pay $.31 per day for water and, if connected to town sewer, $.72 per day . This is your minimum daily cost regardless of whether you use any water or not and is the same for all Falmouth town homeowners.  If you use more than your allotted 80 gallons a day, you will be charged roughly one half penny per gallon for water and roughly a penny per gallon for sewage.  Again, this charge is the same for all Falmouth residents.

If you were hooked up to the sewer in the past six months, your water meter should have been read at hookup and, for this six month period only, your sewer cost would have been prorated by the percent of the period you were connected.  If this is not the case, contact the town water department at 508-457-2543 or dpw@falmouthmass.us.

We researched how Falmouth water and sewer costs compared to other Massachusetts towns and were surprised to see how low our rates are.  A comparison of 135 Eastern MA Towns was published in 2017 by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

This lengthy report has a table on page 8 which basically says that Falmouth water and sewer is reasonably priced as a comparison to other communities.

On page 10, for instance, Belmont’s water charges of 6.36 per HCF and sewer of 12.68 are both much higher than Falmouth. Newton, as another example, has a tiered rate starting at 6.45 HCF for water and 9.25 HCF for sewer, again significantly higher than Falmouth.

Pick any of the towns in the report and you can quickly see that Falmouth water is reasonably priced and most towns’ sewer price is roughly double the water price.  While the 3X increase after sewer hookup seems disturbing, our research has shown it is both fair within the Town of Falmouth as well as reasonable compared to other towns in the state.

While we may not like it, water is a valuable and increasingly limited resource that we pay for, once to use and double that to dispose of.  Be aware of your water usage and realize that there is a cost associated with long showers, sprinkler systems and washing the car in the driveway.

On a separate note, Falmouth April 2018 Town Warrant Article 32 asked for a 2nd water meter for “outside “ water not to be included in sewer charges, but it was voted down verbally at Town Meeting.  The Article asked that the Town pay for both the meter itself and its installation.  This may come back up again at November town meeting as an article asking for permission to have the homeowner pay for both the meter and its installation.