The seaward side of East Chop Drive will remain closed until further notice, as the bluff beneath continues to experience erosion.
Selectmen voted unanimously at their meeting Tuesday to restrict traffic to one-way on the scenic drive from Brewster avenue to Munroe avenue.
It is the first time the scenic road has been limited to one-way traffic during the summer season, though for a 14-month period following Hurricane Bob, the road was closed to all traffic.
The road and underlying cliffs have seen significant long-term erosion, which has been compounded by major storm events such as Hurricane Sandy and winter storm Nemo.
Further slumping of the bluff was documented by engineer Carlos Peña this spring. He recommended that the town keep the seaward lane closed.
Fred Hancock, a member of the East Chop Association board of directors, said his group supports the one-way closure.
“Actually, we would rather see it close down entirely, but this is better than reopening it again,” Mr. Hancock said.
The town has vowed to keep monitoring the road to assess further cracking and instability.
In addition, the police department will also ramp up their presence in the neighborhood in response to an anticipated increase in traffic, said board chairman Gregory Coogan. Parking is now prohibited on the north side of Brewster avenue.
In other business, residents sparred with developer Reid (Sam) Dunn over construction of a bowling alley and pub on Uncas avenue.
A town policy approved by selectmen last summer prohibits exterior construction in the downtown area during peak season. But there is confusion over the term “downtown” which was amended from a previous draft of the policy that prohibited construction in the B-1 and B-2 districts.
Mr. Dunn said the policy was created to target businesses on Circuit avenue, and therefore did not apply to his property.
He said the only other business nearby, the A Gallery on Uncas, had supported their efforts.
“I really don’t think it's going to have an impact on the dense part of the town,” he said.
But neighbors thought the policy should apply to Mr. Dunn’s property which, though commercially zoned, is surrounded by residential lots. Those who spoke at the meeting were concerned with the impact of a noisy construction site on their neighborhood.
Abutter David Harte, who has owned a property in the neighborhood for 19 years, pleaded with selectmen to prohibit construction this summer. He said the work done on the bowling alley project had already become disruptive. “Please give us a break and let us have the last summer with our kids and grandchildren and our neighbors,” he said.
For his part, Mr. Dunn promised a low-impact construction site.
“This is not a stick-built house, where you have constant banging of nail guns and steel saws all day long,” he said. “It is the assembly of a pre-engineered steel building and it is not noise-free, but it is basically like putting together a Lego set. It’s not constructed from the ground up, it’s assembled.”
Selectman Coogan said he knew firsthand what it was like to abut a construction site, but he balked at stopping construction altogether.
“I just don’t think that is fair to all of the other areas in town that have construction going on,” he said.
Ultimately, the board voted to permit construction Monday through Thursday, excluding holidays, which includes Fourth of July, Illumination Night and fireworks night.
Selectmen called their vote a compromise.
“I am torn with the neighbors' issues and your need to get going and to meet schedules you have got set in stone almost,” said selectman Walter Vail.
Gail Barmakian was the sole nay vote. She said she thought the policy should apply to all B-1 areas.
“There is a lot of pedestrian traffic on that road . . . there is a lot of through traffic on that road, and there is a lot of parking on that road,” she said.
At the close of the meeting, several audience members spoke on the subject of sand at the town beach.
Dredge spoils deposited there in the spring were deemed unsuitable by the town and some citizens after it became apparent that the material carried an odor and was unusually dark in color.
Though selectmen said they’d been told that the undesirable sand had been removed from the public beach, residents who attended the meeting Tuesday claimed that some of it was still there.
Greg Ehrman said he used to visit the beach often with his wife and two small children.
“That beach is in rough shape right now,” he told selectmen. “You should all go there, take your shoes off and walk in it. It’s really bad, and if that is what somebody considers fixed, the town should get their money back for it because it’s bad.
“This summer, my family is going somewhere else,” he added. “It would be really good if that got fixed.”
Parks commissioner Amy Billings said she was still looking into the situation, but thought the parks department removed as much as they could.
She said lifeguards would be assigned to rake the area.
“It was a mistake, it happened, and we are doing the best we can,” Ms. Billings said. “It’s been talked about for months.”
Another woman asked if the selectmen provided oversight for the decisions made by town officials.
“You say that it has been removed, but no one has been down to see that it had been removed,” she said.
Selectmen said they would follow up with the highway department.