Charlotte Kent's Once Beautiful Property

Once a resource, now a disposable commodity!

Since before the 1600s, Kent’s Point (formerly known as "Weemsquamscett” by the local tribes) has been a resource. Providing food, for the hunters to eat, and fish, for the same purpose. The land was farmed, again for the same purpose. For hundreds of years the land regenerated itself in order to support flora & fauna, the wildlife and nutrients necessary to do so. The natural seeps provided crystal clear water for all.

It has been designated as being in a “Pleasant Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), designated under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 21A, Section 2(7) by the Commonwealth in March 1987.” It used to contain many species of flora, fauna, and wildlife that were “protected” and/or “endangered”.

From the recorded beginning of the property, until Charlotte Kent sold the property to the Town, the land has been, and has been treated as, a valuable resource. Even for a few years after the Town’s purchase of the property, it remained a valuable resource for its scenic beauty and solitude.

Local residents and guests, appreciating the value of the land, would walk the trails, see the fox dens, watch the dozen or so nesting pairs of blue herons transiting back and forth feeding their hatchlings, watch the ducks & geese in the adjacent, abandoned cranberry swamp, marvel at the numerous piles of deer scat (nanny berries?), and wander out to the point where they could view the beauty that is Little Pleasant Bay, Lonnies River, Frost Fish Cove, and Meeting House River.

Abutters and neighbors of the property would see the Blue Herons, owls, red-tailed hawks, box turtles, raccoons, garter & black snakes, deer, coyotes, and foxes in their own back yards every day as their growth in numbers would cause them to expand their search for food sources. Although new to the area, turkeys were beginning to show up in the trees and on the ground.

Most of these animals, while wild, were timid but not afraid of people. They had been undisturbed in their natural habitats. Rabbits used to live under sheds and other sheltered areas on those properties. Neighbors were frequently annoyed by waking in the mornings to find the raccoons and skunks had raided the trash cans left outside and strewn ‘stuff’ all over the place. That hasn’t happened in years since the dogs began ‘socializing’ there.

What HAS happened, in large part because of the absence of an enforceable leash law, word of mouth, and social media, is that the Kent property has become a place to ‘socialize’ the dogs. A genuine Dog Park.

What has ALSO happened is that dogs in all local towns, generally speaking, are prohibited from all beaches seasonally. Additionally, the Town of Brewster closed a very popular dog park. All these dogs had to have a place to go and the once pristine Kent’s Point is it.

Social media has done, and is doing, the rest. Website articles, “Dog Park Finder” phone apps, and information never disappear when someone is searching for anything. Phone calls, text messages to friends and websites for dog enthusiasts notify everyone about Kent’s Point. Sort of, “you build it, they will come”. They do. In droves.

In the Lower Cape area (and beyond) the Kent’s Point property was ideal for a dog park. It was always open and had no enforced restrictions. Neighbors couldn’t prove the wildlife was gone because you can’t prove a negative. Unleashed dogs don’t care if they trample protected or endangered flora & fauna. Their owners don’t care if they frighten or intimidate walkers who are there to enjoy the scenery.

There are many responsible dog owners who leash their pets and respect the property. They are not the villains. In reality, neither are the owners of the unleashed dogs. They should, and do, know better but they are simply taking advantage of a situation created by the Town.

The true villains are the successive Conservation Commissions after former Chairman Richard Houghton, Jr. left. They refuse to enforce the very reasonable management rules that the Town accepted in 1995.

Mr. Houghton did everything in his power to involve and inform the abutters and neighbors of Kent’s Point in the development and management of it. After acceptance of the 1995 Kent’s Point Management Plan, Mr. Houghton, Jr. and Mr. Paul Fulcher (Park Superintendent) were dumped as liaisons to the abutters and neighbors. Abutters/neighbors were told that, following a one year review, they could make comments. There was never a public one year review.

Today, as a direct result of the above, and the Town’s refusal to acknowledge the issues and actually enforce the 1995 Kent’s Point Land Management Plan (KPMP) for managing the property, the land, which is part of the “Pleasant Bay Area of Critical Concern”, has become nothing more than a commodity to be (ab)used. It has become:
  • A tool to provide a greeting place where dogs can be ‘socialized’.
  • A tool that is used as a sewer for literally thousands of dogs annually.
  • A tool whose soil chemistry has been so violently changed that virtually all wildlife has left.
  • A tool where people are at risk due to the unleashed dogs
While the abutters and neighbors all attest to the fact that the wildlife is gone from Kent’s Point but remain in the immediate area, the people who want to keep abusing the land claim they see wildlife there frequently. However, none of those claimants, probably all of whom carry picture-taking cellphones, have provided even one single photograph of a single instance of a sighting.

In the winter when it snows, there are no bird tracks, no skunk, fox, or rabbit tracks. Only dogs tracks. (it is impossible to rule out coyotes because their footprints are so similar to those of a dog.)

It is important to refer to KPMP page 2, b. Background; KPMP page 7, Environmental Significance, 2. Rare Species and Wildlife Habitat; Appendix D (KPMP) to see what has been documented as being on KP at the time of the survey.

The Orleans Conservation Commission refuses to enforce their own negotiated (w/ abutters) plan and continues to allow the abutters and neighbors to bear the costs, both financial and psychological.

Conservation Commission members admit to taking their own dogs to Kent’s Point AND to using Keziah’s Lane to access it. The Task Force they appointed to resolve the issues is comprised (chairman & vice-chairman) of two of their own members. Hardly an objective group?

The charge to the Task Force is to disregard the past three decades of issues with non-enforcement of the negotiated instrument, KPMP, (it is referred to as “moving forward”) and amend it to address current/future use of the Kent’s Point property. (i.e., recommend use of Keziah’s Lane and/or Frost Fish Lane as designated access, disregard the current “overburdening” clause in the Superior Court Agreement which would not only NOT reduce the number of dogs abusing the land but will encourage it to increase.

Furthermore, while signs erected by ConsCom stating that dogs must be leashed may or may not be legally enforceable, they have significantly reduced the visitations to Kent’s Point because people don’t want their dogs leashed. (proof of this is demonstrated every day at the, formerly crowded with dogs, Drummer Boy Park in Brewster where dogs were once banned totally and then allowed back provided they were leashed. The Park is now virtually devoid of dogs.)

Despite this, the Task Force has recommended (with one dissenting vote) that the signs be taken down. This would allow the continuation of the unleashed dogs’ free rein to continue their off-trail urination, defecation, and trampling of flora & fauna.

On a bright note, Town Counsel recently, at a publicized Selectmen’s meeting, stated that ConsCom has a statutory right to enact rules (such as a strict leash law) which are legally enforceable despite any Town Bylaws which may conflict. The one caveat is that ConsCom must be the enforcer because the police/dog officer can only enforce the Town Bylaw. History has shown that ConsCom will not enforce its own rules.

By usurping authority which they apparently do not have (control over access issues on private roads leading to or from property under their control) they not only refuse to “manage” their property but impose restrictions and abuse on the residents and abutters of both Frost Fish Lane and Keziah’s Lane without addressing objections about those restrictions and abuse.

Even land for sale (which IS considered a commodity) would not be treated as callously as that.

The Conservation Commission’s duty is to conserve and preserve the property under their management and control. They cannot plead ignorance. They have been made aware, for decades, of the worsening conditions because of their refusal to follow their own management plan.

The wishes and intentions of Charlotte Kent, the spirit of the laws (MGL c.40, s.8C, 310 CMR 10, and their own 1995 KPMP) have been ignored, disregarded, and unenforced. Since 1995 no funds have been asked for, or appropriated for, enforcement of the regulatory provisions in the 1995 KPMP.

The Keziah’s Lane abutters and neighbors have continuously asked for:
  1. adherence to the 1995 Kent’s Point Management Plan
  2. all dogs to be leashed at all times
  3. limitation of access to Orleans’ residents/guests w/ IDs (e.g., Beach or Transfer Station stickers)
  4. active participation in any proposed changes to the plan
  5. enforcement of all four items listed here.
How difficult would that be? The abutters and neighbors have already:
  • given up their peace & serenity,
  • lost the “quiet enjoyment” of their own property (which was there long before the Town bought the Kent property),
  • incurred the repair costs for the unauthorized use and breakdown of their road,
  • been verbally accosted by rude, selfish dog owners,
  • lost resale value to their homes because of the dog traffic,
  • been forced to raise funds for legal advice to protect themselves from the Town.
On the other hand, the Town has given/lost NOTHING, except the destruction of the assets and resources on Kent’s Point. Talk about self-inflicted wounds! How can anyone NOT see this for what it is?

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