Let’s Talk Spit Rules

Let’s Talk Spit Rules

Many thanks to our SPB community for responding to our recent “No Alcohol” email with excellent suggestions, concerns, and support. We are making every effort to keep the Spit safe and open for all to enjoy. We hope this article addresses some of the concerns you have raised, and we look forward to our ongoing dialogue. Please reach out to us directly if you would like to help us protect our wildlife preserve, our families, as well as our homes whose values are higher in safe communities.

We appreciate as always, your support to ensure the Spit and Bay are sustained for generations to come!

Why is enforcing the no-alcohol rule necessary?
The short answer is that we risk being shut down entirely if “our guests” on the Spit continue to violate these rules. We do not want to risk this possibility.

SPB relies on collaborating with a complex array of owners and overseers in order to stay open. The Spit is an endangered species habitat whose entirety is overseen by Mass Audubon and MA Wildlife and Fisheries. The Spit has a right of way through a private road owned by Popponesset Beach Association (PBA) and private homeowners, and the beach at the fisherman’s landing leading to the State Beach. Save Popponesset Bay owns the first two thirds of the peninsula and Mass Audubon owns the last third to the tip. Audubon regularly monitors the impact our use has on the nesting of endangered migratory birds, which have been threatened by the presence of dogs and human behavior. Audubon and we have received numerous police reports responding to multiple violations and we cannot risk the possibility of being closed down.

Why are you prohibiting alcohol now?
We actually have had a no alcohol rule in place for a number of years. In fact, all Mashpee beaches, including the adjacent State beach as well as South Cape beach, prohibit alcohol consumption. Our former security team had not been uniformly enforcing the rule and we saw a dramatic uptick in excessive drinking over the last few years. Unfortunately, the Spit has become a popular drinking destination that has increasingly spurred violence and destruction of the reconstructed dunes, nesting areas, and private homes in our neighborhoods.

Why can’t we restrict visitors to local residents?
The mission of SPB and Audubon support sharing our nature preserve with everyone. In the last few years, there have been many houses renting to large numbers of college-age and underage kids who come to party on the Spit. Unfortunately, many of the repeat offenders have summer homes in New Seabury and Popponesset and/or have invited friends who have exhibited unacceptable behavior. In other words, we need everyone on board in order to make an impact.

What kind of incidents were you seeing?
Imagine College Spring Break in Daytona, but on the Spit; Beer pong. Kegs. Fires. Tents. People vomiting, defecating and urinating in the dunes and neighbors’ yards. Drunken brawls. Multiple arrests. EMT’s rescuing passed out partiers. Dangerous and erratic boating. Harassing paddle boarders. It was estimated that thousands packed the Spit and waterways on Fourth of July.

All of this has happened in broad daylight (the Spit closes at dusk, around 7pm).

More than a dozen representatives of the villages and communities in the New Seabury/Popponesset area have joined a security task force to help all neighborhoods address these issues. Each private beach owner bears liability for actions on its beach, and SPB is responsible to do what we can to prevent unsafe and illegal behavior. Public safety officials in Mashpee and the Harbormaster (paid for by our tax dollars) will support our efforts to help ensure our families continued ability to safely access the Spit.

Why aren’t adults allowed to drink responsibly?
We were advised by the Police and Security that it is important to send a strong message to our community and beyond that the Spit is dry and will be enforced. It is only by enforcing this rule uniformly that we will be able to change the reputation of the Spit and deter partiers from coming in the first place. Nantucket implemented this intervention, as did our security team in Plymouth where they helped successfully eliminate the party scene which reduced violence and crime and restored their beaches to being a family destination once more.

Next Steps
We are getting the word out through social media in order to change our reputation and reach the key offenders. We need your help to spread the word about the enforcement of this policy, as this will help us keep away the partiers and allow us to restore the Spit to “how it used to be.”  We welcome your input on how to best get there. Please reach out at the email below if you’d like to help.

Thank you for helping us do what we can to keep all of us, our families, and our visitors safe in our “happy place.”