Barring any tricks from Mother Nature, off-road vehicles will have access to North (Nauset) Beach this summer under a joint management agreement between Chatham and Orleans.
With Chatham selectmen in attendance Wednesday, Orleans selectmen voted to approve the pact, which requires Chatham to resume patrolling its portion of the barrier beach. The one-year agreement also stipulates that Orleans will retain 75 percent of the permit revenue from out-of-town beach users, with Chatham keeping 25 percent. Previously, Orleans retained all of the sticker fees in exchange for patrolling both towns’ portions of the beach.
Sticker fees defray the costs to the towns of opening the beach to off-road vehicles, but taxpayers subsidize the beach operation. Orleans board members argued that the new revenue split would increase the burden on Orleans taxpayers who don’t use the beach, but they agreed to the arrangement on a one-year trial basis. The board voted 4-0 in favor of the agreement, with board member Jon Fuller abstaining. Orleans board members are expected to sign the agreement shortly.
The current beach management agreement was set to expire at the end of the month. Beach users, including the leadership of the Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association, strongly urged both sides to reach agreement before the start of the 2018 beach season.