'They offered to move me out.' Dune shack renter still smarting after Seashore handling

Dune shacks were of utmost concern on Monday in Eastham.

“The whole dune shack issue has been a long, complicated, multi-layered issue,” Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission Chair Richard Delaney said at the commission meeting.

There are 18 National Park Service-owned dune shacks in Provincetown and Truro. There is also one privately-owned dune shack. The shacks lack utilities and plumbing, and are reached with over-sand vehicles or on foot.

Seven of the cottages are leased by the nonprofits Provincetown Community Compact, Peaked Hill Trust and Outer Cape Artists in Residence Consortium. Those leases are being actively worked on for renewals, according to Superintendent Jennifer Flynn.

The rest of the shacks are leased by private individuals.

“Unlike private individuals, we don’t have to competitively bid the leases of nonprofit organizations,” Flynn said. “The nonprofits we’ve been working with for a very long time have been approached directly by us to begin lease negotiation process.”

Dune Shacks of the Cape Cod National SeashoreDune Shacks of the Cape Cod National Seashore

Dune Shacks of the Cape Cod National Seashore

Individual lease statuses revealed

Private individuals who had their dune shack leases updated last year were surprised to find they had to fill out a 29-page request for proposals and bid on shacks they had been maintaining and paying taxes and insurance on for decades.

During the request for proposals process, not enough consideration was given to an individual’s length of dune shack stay, knowledge of, work and maintenance on the rustic structures, according to some of the lessees.

The following shacks are under 10-year leases to individuals that will expire Sept. 30, 2033, according to a table shared with commission members at Monday’s meeting: Fleurant, Adam’s, Adam’s guest, Kemp, 10-year (The Grail), Braaten, Watson-Schmidt (Peg’s), and Jones.

The Champlin (Mission Bell) shack has a life estate for the person using it and his/her children. The expiration date is undetermined.

The Chanel shack has been granted a special use permit until Oct. 1, 2028.

The Armstrong shack has been granted a special use permit until Sept. 31, 2025.

A dune shack in the Cape Cod National Seashore known as The Grail.A dune shack in the Cape Cod National Seashore known as The Grail.

A dune shack in the Cape Cod National Seashore known as The Grail.

‘They offered to move me out’

Janet Armstrong, whose parents first took over care and keeping of the dune shack 78 years ago, is worried that she could lose it in another request for proposals round. Last year the National Park Service gave her a 90-day-notice to move out of the shack after it was discovered her parents had died.

Armstrong’s case was different because her parents had a life estate agreement with the Seashore that wasn’t adjusted after their deaths.

“They offered to move me out,” she said on Tuesday of National Park Service personnel in Philadelphia. “They weren’t aware you can’t get a moving van out there. Every nail and board are ours. We couldn’t possibly move out.”

Delaney acknowledged Monday the commission may have helped smooth the difficulties facing both families and federal government personnel had the commission been reauthorized in time. The commission’s authorization expired in 2018 after being in place since 1961, when President Kennedy signed the Cape Cod National Seashore bill into law.

“I know it was stressful,” Delaney said. “The Park Service has been able to respond to its federal responsibilities as manager of public lands with private users on it. There’re still some loose ends.”

The chart showing current lease statuses of the dune shacks will be available on the Seashore’s website after all meeting materials are transcribed and made accessible for people with disabilities, according to Linzy French, a Seashore visual information specialist.

Denise Coffey writes about business, tourism and issues impacting the Cape’s residents and visitors. Contact her at dcoffey@capecodonline.com

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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Seashore intends to publish finalized dune shack lease statuses

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