Select Board Discusses Beaches; More Great Bay Street Closures

SELECT BOARD MEETING, MONDAY, 7/13/20

COVID and the Beaches:

The Select Board discussed the Beach/COVID situation at length. Although no votes were taken, much was discussed. A lot of concern and complaints were lodged about the 4th of July weekend.

Police Chief Ed Dunne reported specifically about two parties at Falmouth Heights Beach which had been advertised on social media.  They included alcohol consumption (which is against the law)  and no social distancing.  The attendees were mostly young people who were “there to party” and not necessarily there for beach-going and swimming. Chief Dunne, Falmouth Health Agent Scott McGann, and some police officers were able to break up the parties peacefully. Once the party-goers were told they could not drink on the beach, they were no longer interested in being there and left peaceably, cleaning up the beach, removing beer cans, coolers, etc.  There were other large parties elsewhere in town.

The Chief also reported he had hired another beach patrol officer for the Heights and is hoping to add more seasonal officers. Seven full-time officers recently joined the force and are currently being trained.

Health Agent McGann reported that the COVID infection rate remains low in Falmouth at 204 cases. However, he cautioned that we must remain vigilant and continue with social distancing and wearing masks to prevent a surge. Falmouth in doing a reasonably good job, resulting in a stabilization in cases, but we cannot lower our guard.

The Beach Department reported that there were some unsafe situations with large crowds not wearing masks as required in the parking lots or toilet areas. COVID signage has been improved from paper sheets encased in plastic to larger aluminum signs obtained from the county as well as several large electronic signs at various beaches including the Heights.

The issue of beach parking and related traffic was discussed with some proposing to limit parking further with others suggesting having more resident parking. Extending the hours of parking lot attendants was also discussed. No decisions were made, but plans were put into effect to monitor and assess the parking situation with the intent to make further decisions based on data gathered by the Beach Department to be presented at the next Select Board meeting.

This meeting can be viewed on FCTV Video on Demand by scrolling to 1:20:40 through 2:10:00.

Also, see 7/17/20 Falmouth Enterprise article “Crowds On Beaches A Concern For Falmouth Officials” and two earlier Enterprise articles from July 10, 2020: “Police Respond to Complaints at Falmouth Beaches”, page 7 and “Select Board to Consider Beach Parking Expansion”, page 12.

Great Bay Street Closures:

The Board approved further closures on Great Bay Street, from Menauhant Road to Brockton Street, after hearing from Peter McConarty, Director of Public Works. Travel will be restricted in certain sections by placing boulders in the street at the end of each block, leaving some open to allow residents to have access to their driveways located on Great Bay Street.

Closures first began in 2014 when 8 sections were closed due to erosion mainly caused by delivery trucks and other heavy vehicles. In 2018, 7 sections were closed, and now, in 2020, 5 more sections are being closed.

This detailed discussion can be viewed online, FCTV Video on Demand, by scrolling to 3:44:25 through 3:52:12.

See the Falmouth Enterprise /17/20 article, “Select Board Closes Several More Sections of Great Bay Street“.

Also see the FHMNA website for articles beginning in 2014 which detail past closures and erosion issues:

1/4/14: Great Bay St. Road Closure (Maravista);
8/22/14: More Great Bay Road Closures;
4/16/17: Great Bay Road Erosion Update; and
11/6/18: Selectmen Approve More Great Bay Street Sections to be Closed.