2013-11-21 / Editorial

To build or not to build an elevated boardwalk

A debate has erupted over whether the town should construct an elevated boardwalk along the pathway leading to Hull Cove.

Hull Cove has been at the center of controversy for some time. Last summer someone (they never found out who) clear-cut a 10-foot pathway along the Hull Cove trail and damaged the town property at the head of the trail. The brush and tree cutting was done without a permit, bringing the ire of the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council, which then proceeded to slap the town with a $17,000 fine.

For years people have complained about the Hull Cove trail, a popular public right-of-way to the water. The trail is often muddy and littered. There have been times when people have dragged wooden planks to the trail to provide a drier, more stable walkway. These planks then rot, adding to the mess along the trail.

The debate over building a boardwalk at Hull Cove is not a new one, but it has usually died due to lack of funding. Now the town’s Conservation Commission says it has a grant to build the boardwalk, so the discussion has been renewed.

Hull Cove is a popular surfer destination. The waves curl nicely in the small cove. Others like to visit the cove to walk the beach, bird watch, or just enjoy the seclusion and the coastal scenery. Sometimes people fish there. However, parking is limited so there are usually not too many people visiting the cove at any one time.

Opponents to the boardwalk argue that by building the walkway, more people will visit Hull Cove. They don’t want that and would prefer to keep the cove to themselves. Abutters to Hull Cove are especially keen on limiting the number of people who visit the scenic spot.

Proponents of the boardwalk say it will help alleviate erosion of the trailway and also provide much needed handicap accessibility. Hull Cove is for everyone to use and enjoy, they say, and so the town should improve the access since the grant has been made available to the town.

It is doubtful that the addition of a boardwalk at Hull Cove will dramatically increase the number of people who visit the scenic spot due to the limited available parking. We think that the proposed boardwalk would be a good addition to the cove. It is our view that the benefits outweigh the negatives in this case.

The town should proceed with building the boardway. But the town should also closely monitor the beach to ensure that the location does not become subject to abuse.

— Jeff McDonough

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