Cape Cod Canal Centennial Sail Banners OK’d For Sandwich
By: Michael J. Rausch
Sandwich will join Bourne and Wareham in using sail-shaped banners to promote the 100th birthday of the Cape Cod Canal in 2014.
The Sandwich Historic District Committee has decided not to challenge a board of selectmen vote designating the sails as an official town emblem.
“As far as we can see, the matter is settled,” said William R. Collins, chairman of the Sandwich Historic District Committee.
Back in January, the committee denied giving its blessing to the 14-foot by 4-foot banners in the shape of a ship’s sail to be displayed in front of businesses throughout town, including in the town’s historic district.
The plan is to have the sails on display for eight months to a year leading up to the centennial celebration in 2014. Town officials in both Bourne and Wareham had already given their approval to the signs.
“The sail signs seemed to be two to three times larger than the law allowed,” Mr. Collins said, explaining why the committee did not initially give its approval. Mr. Collins said there were also questions raised as to whether the amount of time the sails would be on display met the town bylaws’ definition of “temporary.”
Selectmen met after the historic committee denied the banners and expressed frustration over the decision.
At that meeting on January 19, the board, at Selectman John G. Kennan Jr.’s suggestion, voted to adopt the sails as an official insignia of the centennial celebration. Mr. Kennan said such a move negates the need for historic approval.
Soon afterward, Mr. Collins checked with the committee governing the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District, of which Sandwich is a part. Established in 1973, the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District is the oldest historic district in the nation. Mr. Collins said he went to that committee for legal advice about the matter and was told on January 25 that “the selectmen were within their power to do what they did.” He then told the historic district committee what he learned and the committee withdrew its objection.
In the meantime, a town subcommittee was named to address concerns raised by both the building inspector for Sandwich, Paul D. Spiro, and the historic district committee. That subcommittee comprises Mr. Collins; Mr. Spiro; Debra Davies, owner of The Bee-Hive Tavern on Route 6A in East Sandwich; and Mary Hunt, wife of state Representative Randy Hunt.
The four met for about an hour at Mr. Spiro’s office. The subcommittee decided on a number of safety and decorative issues that included: no lights can be attached to a sign; any decorating must be done in the spirit of the canal celebration; no vulgar commentary; signs can only promote the centennial celebration and not the business. Mr. Collins said he then went back to the committee to let them know that the subcommittee would provide oversight and “make sure no one would be putting up an objectionable sign.”
“I think it will be all right in the end,” Mr. Collins said.
“We have liftoff,” Marie J. Oliva, CEO and chairman of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, said enthusiastically about the news that Sandwich will allow the “sail” signs.
Ms. Oliva said the design of the sails is very attractive, and they will help raise money for the event and heighten the public’s awareness about the festivities.
Businesses that purchase the signs are helping to sponsor the centennial event. She also said that it was important for Sandwich to be represented, along with Bourne and Wareham, in what is intended to be a “sail trail.”
Visitors to the area will be given a map outlining the trail, which will include each business that bought a sail sign. Without the committee’s cooperation, Sandwich businesses would not enjoy the same benefit as the other towns.
“They have a consensus, and now we can move forward,” Ms. Oliva said, also pointing out that the sooner the signs go up, the sooner people will begin to make plans to visit the area during the celebration.
“I’m very glad,” said Ms. Davies, a member of the Centennial Celebration Committee. “I want Sandwich to be on the map for everything that is going on in 2014,” she said, referring to the town’s also celebrating its 375th anniversary that year.
She said of the “sail trail” program that 2012 will be spent raising money for events and event planning for the 2014 celebration through sale of the signs.
In 2013 and 2014, the program’s purpose will be to promote awareness of the celebration.
Throughout 2014 it will promote the centennial celebration, while also encouraging visitors to travel to the area and experience everything Sandwich has to offer and indirectly attracting people to Sandwich’s 375th anniversary celebration, too.
“I hope it does bring as many people as possible into the area,” she said.
Ms. Oliva praised the selectmen for “their leadership” and called the decision by the committee “very encouraging” for both celebrations, noting it will be a great economic boost to Sandwich. “It’s a spiritual thing where everybody takes pride in their community,” she said.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.