Dennis’ Waterfront Destinations: Do they have the 10 qualities that make them great?

Read the linked article and think about some of our Waterfront Destinations.

Ten Qualities of a Great Waterfront Destination

How to they hold up? It might surprise you which ones would rank higher. Let’s take a look.

1. Surrounding Buildings Enhance Public Space

Looking at our north side waterfront areas, beaches and harbor, the public spaces are surrounded by private property that does not seek to invite the public.  However, the south side beaches tie into areas with hotels, restaurants and other uses that tie to the beach attraction.  Attractions like the Lighthouse Inn in West Dennis or the Cottage Colonies, on Old Wharf Road, and Hotel District, on Chase Avenue, in Dennisport represent uses that attract users to the public spaces on the south side.

2. Limits are Placed on Residential Development

The north side beaches and the harbor are planted in the middle of residential neighborhoods, which severely restrict the ability to plan beach or harbor activities outside of normal hours due to the inevitable land use conflicts.  The south side beaches are located in areas where the adjacent land uses are predominantly targeted towards individuals attracted to the recreational aspects of the waterfront.

3. Activities go on Round-the-Clock and Throughout the Year

We probably lose on both coasts with this quality, while private individuals might have a waterfront picnic after hours, none of our waterfront activities, are truly geared towards 24/7 activities.  However, the hotels, and cottage colonies, with their active social calendars for the summer guests gain a leg up with the number of private activities that occur on their sites.

4. Flexible Design Fosters Adaptability

Not much on this front either for north or south side waterfront areas.  However, given the nature of the land uses, existing and zoned, surrounding the various beach properties, the south side would once again provide for greater flexibility and opportunities.

5. Creative Amenities Boost Everyone’s Enjoyment

The north side waterfront areas provide the basic amenities you might expect to find, snack bar and restrooms.  Not much is different for what exists on the south side. However, the Hotel Resort District provides significant opportunities to provide these amenities as it allows for restaurants, commercial recreational facilities, theaters and numerous other uses which would be attractive to the visitor staying for any extended period of time.

6. Access Made Easy by Boat, Bike and Foot

Ease of access is not a strong point of any of our waterfront areas.  The municipal harbor on the north side obviously provides easy boat access, however, the harbor is not well connected by bicycle or pedestrian facilities to other destinations.  Similarly, while foot and bicycle traffic to any other north or south side waterfront does occur, as of yet there are limited facilities dedicated to these modes of travel.  On the south side, the Dennisport Revitalization Committee is working on a plan to improved bicycle access between the Cape Cod Rail Trail and the Chase Avenue waterfront area.

7. Local Identity is Showcased

The north side waterfront is surrounded by residential neighborhoods.  There are limited opportunities to showcase the local identity, short of summer rental properties.  The south side waterfront areas are predominantly with mixed use or special zoning districts designed to recognize their unique draw.  The local identity is promoted through adjacent restaurants like the Ebb Tide and the Ocean House, and hotels such as the Lighthouse Inn.  The flavor of Cape Cod is further showcased by the presence of the cottage colonies that cropped up decades ago along Old Wharf Road adjacent to these beaches.

8. The Water Itself Draws Attention

All or our beach areas draw people from near and far.  The north side beaches have their proponents as to the south side beaches.

9. Iconic Buildings Serve a Variety of Functions

The only true “iconic building on the Dennis waterfront would be the Lighthouse Inn, a former active lighthouse converted to a hotel and restaurant.  Other buildings, like the Seaview Restaurant over looking Seaview Park and Metcalf Beach, are hopefully going to be the iconic buildings of the future.

10. Good Management Maintains Community Vision

Managing our beaches and the harbor are overwhelming tasks  for our Beach Department and Harbormaster.  These two departments have many issues to keep the beaches and harbor attractive to families and at the same time become big parts of the economy of Dennis.  Beyond the reach of the public spaces, zoning has placed the south side beaches into a more advantageous position, from an economic development aspect.  Surrounding an active beach use with long-term housing options are rife with conflict, making the north side beaches into a position to not serve the same targeted audience as can be met by the south side waterfront. On the south side, in part due to the lack of zoning for many years, and since the advent of zoning in these areas, zoning that promoted resort style uses, the waterfront as major destination is far more realistic. To truly accomplish this vision, we need to promote the recent re-zoning of these areas and let the world know that the south side beaches are high quality destinations


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