Questioning BCWC’s Support

The Barnstable Patriot published a letter that I wrote regarding the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition’s support of the waterfront project at 33 Oyster Place. The following is a summary of the letter.

Zenas Crocker wrote a letter on behalf of the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (BCWC, formerly Three Bays Preservation, Inc.) in support of significant modifications to the waterfront at 33 Oyster Place, which include the construction of a large dock, where BCWC will be able to moor their boat. In the letter, Mr. Crocker states that he and BCWC support the project in part due to the “Nitroe” septic system that the applicant is proposing. While they have less of an environmental impact than traditional septic systems, the “nitroe” septic system is not part of the applicant’s special permit request, as Mr. Crocker suggests. Instead, it is part of a separate permit request on behalf of the applicant to expand his home. Despite this, Mr. Crocker continues to erroneously tout the benefits of the nitrogen-reducing septic system in his support of the special permit request.

There is clear scientific consensus on the significant adverse effects that piers have on the environment, effects that are exacerbated when a pier is installed in such close proximity to existing piers, as this pier would be. The details of these cumulative effects, can be found in a letter that I submitted to the Town of Barnstable Conservation Commission.

Mr. Crocker wrote an op-ed in The Barnstable Patriot that disparages the many members of the community who have spoken up in opposition of the project. Mr. Crocker accuses them of being driven by a simple not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) mentality, as opposed to serious conservation concerns. I find this offensive. This matter is fundamentally different from one’s opposition to projects that have clear environmental benefits, such as a wastewater treatment plant. I and the large majority of others in opposition object to the proposal to build a dock specifically because it will only harm the environment for many years to come.

In a January meeting of the Conservation Commission, Mr. Crocker urged people to contact him to discuss the project (see video at 3:40:25). I and others have reached out to Mr. Crocker to get a better understanding of BCWC’s stance on the project. Unfortunately, we have not heard back.

I struggle to see why BCWC would be in favor of, let alone formally support, a project that involves the construction of a pier. I think it would be a shame if the BCWC took such a compromising position for the sole benefit of having a place to moor their boat. Certainly there are solutions that are far less harmful to the environment (e.g., why not moor it at one of the existing piers owned by the BCWC president or the other members of its board?). I urge BCWC to reconsider their stance on this project.

Matthew R. Walter