Many Questions, Few Answers - Letter

I’m writing to voice my concern for John J. Singleton, the South Cape Beach State Park Advisory Committee lead (I’m assuming he is the local representative of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation) who is proposing to open Will’s Work Road to unrestricted public access.

Reading the article in the Enterprise, it appears to me that the DCR’s action (or Mr. Singleton’s plan?) is not a well thought through plan that fully considers what might happen when the DCR provides unrestricted access to an isolated beach.

The DCR’s plan to regrade the road is welcome and one that the local neighborhood has been seeking for several years. But to leave the road open to unrestricted public access is an announcement, or really an open invitation, to the public to avoid going to the DCR’s South Cape Beach facility, which offers DCR attendants and full bath facilities. Instead, Mr. Singleton is directing the public to avoid South Cape Beach and use an isolated beach in one of the more inaccessible areas of Mashpee’s South Cape region. His plan is an open invitation to the public beach goer and poses serious public health and safety hazards.

As reported in the Enterprise, when asked if easier access to the area—which is isolated from the state park and the Mashpee Town Beach and the staff that monitor activities at the beaches—could lead to a free-for-all party atmosphere there this summer, Mr. Singleton made it clear that bad behavior would not be tolerated. “We go down there, especially on weekends, to enforce rules and regulations, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the beach in a safe and responsible manner,” Mr. Singleton said.

While the fee for parking at South Cape Beach is $7 per day during the summer, Mr. Singleton said there are no immediate plans to institute a fee to use Will’s Work Road.

“It is public land, and anyone can go down there. It’s a hidden gem with no fee charges,” he said.

Has the DCR completed an assessment of the potential fire hazard that unrestricted public access to a remote heavily wooded area poses? There isn’t one sign warning of no open fires or fires being prohibited.

The DCR removed the access gate to Will’s Work Road nearly two years ago—it still lies on the site of the dirt road. Is the gate to be reinstalled?

The DCR never had or implemented a policy in which the security gate was open every morning and closed every evening (when the gate was in place). Who or what department is to be tasked with the duty to monitor activities at the beaches?

Will’s Work Road is over one mile in length and is typically between 8 to 12 feet wide. Cars can only pass each other where there are pull-offs (cars have driven into the underbrush) to allow each other to pass. Once you are in the beach area and cars pull up behind you, there is no way out. When cars park along the road there is no room to pass parked cars and you have to walk to the end of the road.

The end of Will’s Work has had a history of illegal bonfires, parties, and illegal dumping. The wooded area is heavily underbrush, there is no hydrants, no fire breaks—it is a tinderbox waiting for a brush fire to ignite.

If Mr. Singleton had visited the beach at the end of Will’s Work Road this week, he would have seen the six mattresses that have been dumped.

There are no public facilities, no bathroom (everyone uses the woods to relieve themselves), no garbage collection, no lifeguards, and no emergency call box or phone.

There is no posted attendant. Why is the DCR sending the public to an uncontrolled area rather than promoting the use of South Cape Beach, which has all of the above amenities?

There are no posted warning of fire hazard—Nickerson State Park, Myles Standish State Park, etc. maintain posted warnings —why is this DCR property different?

Why is the DCR not following its “Trails Guidelines and Best Practices Manual”?

This is the best of bad ideas by the DCR. One has to question whether the managers at the DCR are fully aware of what is being proposed by Mr. Singleton at Will’s Work Road. The DCR doesn’t allow unrestricted access to remote areas of Myles Standish State Park. Why is the DCR promoting unrestricted access to this remote beach?

Mr. Singleton and the DCR haven’t really thought this plan through. It’s taken the public years of asking for better conditions, plenty of time for the DCR to come up with a well thought out plan, a plan that considers all the what-ifs of opening remote areas to the public, a plan that considers the site conditions and needs for public safety. The DCR’s plan as currently proposed doesn’t appear to be in the public's best interest and the wide-open invitation to avoid the well-maintained DCR public beach is irresponsible.

George W. Petersen
Manitoba Road
Mashpee

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