It’s regrettable that our town leaders now plan to place parking meters at Horizon’s Beach as a way to skim revenue from our residents and visitors to that area.
As a longtime resident, I have come to appreciate the Horizons parking lot as a public space that provides for easy access to unrestricted views out over Cape Cod Bay and the east entrance to the Canal. The Horizons lot is unique, and in some ways almost park-like in that it currently provides free public access to a visually appealing area. Do we really need to charge people for this view, and if so, what is the paying public getting in return?
When you pay for parking at a public beach at other towns on Cape Cod you’re also paying for basic services like lifeguards, concessions, and bath houses with changing rooms and showers. Many even offer popular community activities like concerts, movie nights, and swimming lessons. At a public beach in Barnstable this morning, I observed a permanently installed beach volleyball net that was in constant use. In most cases, those beaches in other towns are managed by dedicated local residents and paid staff who work hard to ensure that the paying public can enjoy well-run beach venues. In Sandwich we have none of the above at our saltwater beaches.
My point is that other towns on Cape Cod understand that public beaches can be valuable recreational resources and they make significant investments to maintain and improve those assets. When the town makes those sorts of financial commitments, it’s entirely appropriate that they charge for parking. However, until our town catches up with the level of service that is provided by other towns at their beaches, Sandwich should not charge for parking at it’s only remaining free public beach lot.