Only Aquinnah residents will be allowed to park at the Philbin Beach parking lot this summer.
Town administrator Jeff Madison said during a selectmen’s meeting Monday that the town is taking this course of action in order to limit the amount of people in the parking lot and at the beach at one time.
Although residents with a resident parking permit are the only ones allowed to park at the beach, renters with a seasonal parking permit can drop off their passengers at the trailhead, then park in the lot at the Gay Head Cliffs.
“They will be able to park for the duration of their parking permit at the cliff lot,” Madison said. The cliff lot is a short walk to the Philbin Beach parking lot.
In order to avoid crowding in the parking lot, Madison said, a parking lot attendant will have final say on when the lot is full.
“I think we want to manage the physical distance between people on the beach and avoid crowding lots of cars into the parking lot, because it isn’t very big,” Madison said.
An attendant will direct beachgoers on where to park their vehicles, and have the ability to refuse entry to people when they deem the lot to be full.
“It’s going to be on a first-come, first-serve basis, just like it’s always been,” Madison said.
Selectmen chair Juli Vanderhoop said organizing the parking could be as simple as laying down chalk lines on the dirt to denote parking spaces that are properly distanced. But public works director Jay Smalley said that putting down chalk wouldn’t last long, with all the traffic going through the lot. “The first night someone goes in and does doughnuts in the parking lot, those lines will be gone,” Smalley said.
As far as putting traffic cones down to delineate parking areas, Smalley said people often move the cones, or outright steal them. “They will disappear for sure,” he said.
Selectman Gary Haley agreed with Madison, that the parking lot attendant should manage parking, and be given the purview to feel out the situation, instead of setting a maximum occupancy for cars.
Madison said he thinks the simplest and best course of action would be for the attendant to determine maximum occupancy. “I don’t think there should be a specific number. What if everyone shows up in a Volkswagen Bug? He [the lot attendant] has the authority. We are going to keep it to a reasonable number,” Madison said.
Vanderhoop said there should be signage asking people to comply with the guidance given by the attendant. The attendant will also request that beachgoers wear a mask when traversing the path to and from the beach.