HANSON — Call it, perhaps, Operation Sand Wasps 2.0 — the sand wasps are back at Cranberry Cove, but this year, the vibe is live and let live.
Camp Kiwanee Administrative Assistant Dori Jameson said at a Monday, July 18 Recreation Commission meeting that, while the wasps are there and are “ugly looking, they’re scary looking,” they were not seemingly attracted by people’s food and seemed “pretty tame.”
“They’re looking for bugs,” she said. “They’re looking for other insects. Nobody got stung, nobody was freaking out. I just wish there was some sort of organic solution that we could use to move them along.”
She said digging up the beach would be an end game, but asked if bringing in an insect expert would be advisable. An infestation of the wasps forced the closure of the beach in 2021.
“We’d done it last year and it didn’t work,” Chair Frank Milisi said of the organic pesticide that was tried. “The problem is you can’t go down there with Off! … They said the best deterrent is tarps. I don’t agree with that, but we can’t spray anything down there because of Conservation would need to be involved.”
Milisi said if the wasps are not bothering people, “it is kind of what it is.”
He said the Board of Health could shut the beach down if they wanted to, but he would not pursue that, especially in view of the heat wave that sizzled the state last week.
“It’s ‘Swim at your own risk,’ people know that,” Milisi said.
Recreation Commission also continued its work on reconsidering fees for events and facilities at Camp Kiwanee.
Rates and fees
Jameson said the question of weekly camping rates had just come up this month. Two different parties camping in the north end of the campground both raised the question of weekly rates.
“Right now it’s a daily rate,” Jameson said. “It’s $60 a night for a cabin and $30 a night for a tent site.”
She suggested a weekly rate that trims $5 a night off tent sites and $10 off cabins. Milisi said he had no problem with that rate.
“Weekly rates are pretty much standard, and it’s usually about that [price point],” he said.
Vice Chair Melissa Scartissi suggested rounding the usual $420 rate for seven days to $400 for cabins and reducing tent sites from $210 to $200 on a weekly rate. That was the weekly rate approved.
The Recreation Commission also pared back its meeting schedule to once per month, instead of two and setting the time at 6 p.m.
“If we do need to meet [more often], we can just meet,” Milisi said.
Event fees were discussed as a way of covering caretaker fees, with re-elected Milisi using the example of a $50 fee per event charged to the theater group Drama Kids. Things like bar service should remain on an 80-20 contract, as they are because they operate on a cash-based system.
“I’m just floating around ideas about that,” he said. “But for things like Drama Kids, we don’t have an idea of how many kids are coming. I really want to get out of the practice of going into people’s finances when we don’t need to. I would prefer for it to be a fee-based use.”
With more input from actual vendors, he said the commission could discuss what works for a group such as Drama Kids vs. a paint night or other such events. Vendors will be invited to the August meeting to voice their opinions with an eye toward a decision in October.
Scartissi noted that, where Drama Kids is concerned, since they use the lodge every week, the commission should be covering caretaker costs.
“The issue has been, for the past year or two, we haven’t because of COVID [and] our operational expenses, like to turn the heat on was a real issue,” she said. “Now we’re in a little better place with the increased rates and all that kind of stuff.”
A position remains open on the Recreation Commission, and residents are urged to apply.
At a previous meeting on Monday, June 27, the commission discussed complaints about a “rambunctious group of teen-agers … causing all kinds of mayhem and chaos” at Cranberry Cove.
“I don’t know what we would do to remediate that,” Milisi said. “Obviously, we don’t have people down there to check every day.”
But he said he would like to have an on-staff caretaker who could go to the beach and check out the situation at the beach.
The teens had broken some electrical equipment and were throwing rocks in the water while younger children were swimming during the incident. The teens’ parents had picked them up that night, Milisi said.
If they keep causing problems, Milisi said he might have to look into trespassing charges.
“That’s such a ridiculous thing to do to a bunch of middle schoolers who just want to come down here and have a good time,” he said.
He stressed that the problems that have taken place have not hindered people from attending the facility.
Regarding a complaint against a caretaker, Milisi emphasized that the Commission does not get involved in personnel issues – that is primarily the jurisdiction of the town administrator and Select Board.
In other business on June 27, Hanson Public Library’s Lizzie Borden event was approved for Oct. 20 at Needles Lodge, Camp Kiwanee.