A. Statement of Purpose
The Dennis Open Space and Recreation Plan provides a framework for decision-making by its residents. The purpose of the update is to serve as a guide to responsible action to conserve Dennis’ natural resources, preserve its open space and provide ample opportunities for recreation for its citizens.
B. Previous Efforts
This plan represents over 30 years of open space and recreation planning in the Town of Dennis. Among the first principal efforts was the Town of Dennis Planning Proposals and Policies Report prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Community Affairs in 1974. That report, conducted for the Town of Dennis Comprehensive Planning Committee, included sections devoted to “Natural Resources and Physical Features” and “Open Space and Recreation.” In 1975, the Barnstable County Conservation District prepared a study entitled, Natural Resources Planning Program of the Town of Dennis, which evaluated specific natural areas for protection and passive recreation. An inventory report entitled Natural and Visual Resources, Dennis, Mass., was printed in 1976 by the University of Massachusetts and included principles and goals for conservation and recreation. In 1979, a “Recreation Master Plan” was adopted by the town, outlining the need for public recreational facilities.
In 1984, a more comprehensive document, Conservation and Recreation Plan, was prepared by Interchange (consulting firm) and provided a framework to advance the town’s ambitious land acquisition program at the 1985 Town Meeting. This plan was the town’s first to receive (provisional) state approval by the Division of Conservation Services. In 1985 the Town of Dennis Planning Department prepared a “Land Availability Study,” which was used to prepare the 1986 Town of Dennis Open Space and Recreation Plan, which was approved by the state for use through 1991.
In 1994 the town began its preparation of a Local Comprehensive Plan (LCP) in compliance with the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan (1991, amended 1996). This comprehensive plan was ultimately endorsed by Dennis Town Meeting on September 23, 2002 and includes a full build-out and capacity analysis and guide development for the next 20 years. The 1998 Open Space and Recreation Plan and its recommendations were incorporated into the LCP.
In 2003, the town updated its Open Space and Recreation Plan. This update identified several key open space and recreational protection items. Top-most in these were the protection of the Quivett Neck/Crowe’s Pasture area, Bass River Park (then referenced as the Howlin’ Howie’s property) and protection of Seaview Playland. All of these key areas received varying levels of protection.
C. Public Participation Process
This update has been preceded by several efforts to gauge public interest in both the use of town land and the desire to preserve additional land in Dennis. The first effort was undertaken by the Sea View Playland Study Committee. This committee used a survey developed by Dr. Esmat Nouri to identify specific recreational needs that residents of the town felt were important for consideration for the future use of Sea View Playland. The Dennis Planning Department then followed up on this survey with a more generalized survey of community perceptions of the availability and condition of open space and recreational facilities in the town. The results of this survey are compiled and discussed in the section on community needs.
Early in the process staff also engaged the members of several committees in the process of developing this report. The 2003 Open Space and Recreation Plan Update was distributed to the Conservation Commission, Beach Commission, Recreation Commission, Planning Board and Waterways Commission. Each was asked to review the document, to list their accomplishments over the past five years, to update their goals, and to identify priorities for actions. The input from these committees helped guide the development of the open space and recreation needs assessment.
Sections of the document have been made available to the public for review and comment using the Town of Dennis, MA Planning Department Weblog; a Yahoo EGroup created for exchanging information; placing copies of draft sections in town buildings and on the town website. The draft document was also presented to the above noted committees for review and comment. Ultimately the document was presented in draft form at a public meeting held in August 2008.
Edited May 11, 2009