All appeals exhausted, demolition will soon begin
The end is nearing for the five remaining cottages on Chatham's North Beach Island. In a letter to Caroline D. Hall, Assitant Director of the Office of Federal Agency Programs, Federal Land Management Section, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, today George E. Price Jr., the Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park (NPS), stated clearly and plainly that "we will be proceeding with the demolition process".
Since plans to demolition the remaining National Park Service-owned camps were announced, opponents, including the families who have rented them for decades, have tried every avenue to block the removal of the five structures.
Most recently, attempts have been made to have the camps officially recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. In November 2011, that attempt was denied for the cottages both individually and as a collective unit. The following month, the Massachusetts Historic Commission also ruled that the cottages were not eligible for historic status.
Tenants of the camps were ordered to vacate at the end of December.
According to Price, the Cape Cod National Seashore Park plans to begin demolition before April and the return of endangered shorebirds:
"The presence of state and federally-listed nesting and staging shorebirds on the island from April through September necessitates that we proceed with demolition of the cottages as soon as practicable. The demolition must be completed prior to the return of the birds in spring. If we delay, our next opportunity to resume removal will be in October, well into New England hurricane season, which begins in August, increasing the probability that the cottages will be destroyed in a non-controlled manner."
The plan to raze the cottages was developed in response to the likelihood of destruction and resulting debris in the waters of Pleasant Bay and Chatham Harbor following future storms. There is a documented history of debris washing into the water following major storms in 1991 and 2007. At the end of January 2008, a sixth cottage was destroyed during a storm--sending debris into the water and long the beach.
Such debris, poses significant hazards to boaters, fishermen and area wildlife, Price said in the letter.
"Our objective is to remove the NPS-owned structures in anticipation of storm action or the imminent occurrence of erosion washing away the beach on which the cottages sit," said Price. To the opponents who have asked that the cottages simply be allowed to wash into the sea, Price said, "the NPS does not find this suggestion to be a responsible manner in which to manage the park's resources."