HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, June 9 decided to again delay reopening Cranberry Cove and Camp Kiwanee until they see a clear plan, including the financial impact, from the Recreation Comission.
“The financial impact is crucial to this,” argued Selectman Wes Blauss. “There are times when that parking lot is a public menace [even without physical distancing requirements] and requires policing.”
He said he can envision the cove closing again if it does open because of issues at the gate with kid gatekeepers.
“We’re talking young college kids who are going to be dealing with belligerent families who want their people on the beach, now,” Blauss said. “It’s that volatile a situation.”
Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sullivan recommended keeping the cove closed for the season as it is not taking in revenue this year and will require more town financial assistance next year.
Recreation Director William Boyle said, since the cove is fenced in, it falls within regulations limiting attendance for confined spaces to 10 persons at a time, according to the governor’s reopening guidelines.
“I know there is also another memorandum out there about coastal and inland beaches, so right now it’s up for discussion whether or not the Cove is allowed to go to that 12-foot rule between beach towels and no more than 10 persons per beach towel,” Boyle said. “But that would get very tricky very quickly down at the cove.”
Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff, who views the cove as an inland beach said, agreed with Boyle’s summation. She added that unlike the 6-foot distance required for other social settings proper physical distance at a beach is now 12 feet between groups on towels.
“How many groups [are admitted] really depends on your square-footage. … This doesn’t have to be exact,” she said, however, but the beach needs a plan as to how people would be seated.
Matt Dyer said the beach is .3 acres or about 13,000 square feet.
“I think your pretty well above the 10 person limit,” Feodoroff said.
“We need to try to balance the health and safety of everyone with the need for people to have that recreation,” said Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “We’ve got a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of people staying home this year are not leaving to go vacationing.”
Recreation Commission member Diane Cohen said they were waiting for more guidance from the governor as to what phase-in category the beach fell under. Once admission limits are determined they can map out the beach to determine how many people the cove can handle.
“I do want clarification as to what happens when people go in the water, particularly children,” Cohen said, noting younger kids tend to play in groups by the docks.
Feodoroff said she would need more guidance from the state as well adding that enforcement will be hard.
Another issue of concern for Cohen and her commission is trespassing, which has already been a problem. Cohen suggested more control of beach access is possible by opening than not.
“People are swimming there every day,” said Recreation Commission member John Zucco. “I don’t know how you enforce that or what’s going on. … Are you going to tell people they can’t come in because we’ve got people swimming already?”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said the rules have to be enforced once it does open, but hoped an officer will not be necessary.
Boyle said that the loss of season passes and swim lessons, it cost the Recreation Commission $17,000.
Recreation Commission member Brian Fruzetti argued for passing over the issue because the Recreation Commission has not met on it.
“You’ve got a lot of safety things all rolled into one here,” Fruzetti said.
Selectmen said they were not willing to make a decision until they see a plan from the Recreation Commission.
“I think it’s a really tricky operation to try to open up without a social distancing component,” said Selectman Matt Dyer. “I think it’s important for the Recreation Commission to do their best to open it up at some point. I’m a true believer in having a local swimming hole is very important for the health of our town.”
If it can’t open he said it is important to help families come up with other resources.
Selectmen also joined their Whitman counterparts in green-lighting use of fields for youth baseball as softball.
Paul Clark, president of Hanson Little League attended to “see what we have to do to get the fields open” for the season.
Feodoroff said state guidelines are trying to prevent close contact such as football, FitzGerald-Kemmett said youth baseball has been the only sport to apply for permission so far.
Selectmen voted to approve the proposal Clark outlined for youth baseball as well as girls’ softball.
Parents will be provided safety guidelines, including bringing their own equipment and physical distancing from the state and youth baseball. No kids will be permitted in the dugout in either stage 2 or stage 3. An email was sent out offering refunds for those who want them and the season has been canceled for the youngest division of play.
“What I was impressed with is the younger instructional teams,” Selectman Jim Hickey said.
Clark said the “games” will be more along the lines of instructional drills.
Selectmen also approved a request to hold a Resisting Racism vigil from 5 to 6 p.m., Thursday, June 19 at Town Hall Green. The event was originally planned for Saturday, June 13, but organizers Dias, Juvelyn Hartwig of the Recreation Commission, and Marianne DiMascio of Green Hanson and the Plymouth County Reuse Committee, have indicated more time was needed for the work of organizing the event.
Police Chief Michael Miksch has asked to be kept updated on the number of people expected to permit adequate staffing.
Dyer asked for more information about it, which Dias said is modeled after Whitman’s vigil held Sunday, June 7.
“We only want to do it for an hour at Town Hall Green and, we would only have speakers and then walk around the green, so it wouldn’t go off-site anywhere,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting people together to talk about the issues that have come up recently and how we can learn to communicate better and a variety of other things. … To show we can begin to work together and to begin to work toward some changes.”
Dyer asked about physical distancing precautions. Dias said there is plenty of opportunity for distancing on the grounds of the Town Hall Green.
FitzGerald-Kemmett asked about masks and after-event cleanup Dias said masks would be required.
“At this point, in any gathering, you have to be sure to wear a mask,” she said.
Participants would be required to stay on the green, as well.