ROCKPORT — Bearskin Neck can sometimes look like a walking path this time of year, with restaurant, gallery and shop patrons all strolling down the narrow road.
And some would recommend that the bustling roadway to be largely that — a walking path barred to vehicular traffic, especially delivery trucks.
But restaurant and store owners and town officials alike say that is just not viable.
"It is a very tricky situation," Selectman Paul Murphy said. "It's not as simple as banning all trucks in Bearskin Neck or all traffic."
Residents use the road to get to their homes. Patrons use the street for parking. Merchants and restaurateurs use the road for deliveries.
Murphy said that all of these people have a right to use the Neck in their respective ways, and he and the other selectmen have kept that in mind while working toward a new policy or set of rules for the road.
"Safety is most crucial and the convenience of residents is important too, but we have to make sure we don't infringe on people's rights to use the road," Murphy said.
Rockport's traffic and parking committee has been brainstorming solutions for the narrow drive for the past year.
Joe Parisi, a committee member and the town's director of public works, said the committee has discussed prohibiting trucks of a certain breadth from traveling down the lane.
The committee also pondered requiring truck drivers to park elsewhere and bring shipments into the Neck with golf carts and dollies. But, the committee has not settled on a potential solution, preventing them from enacting a plan of action, Parisi said.
"Nothing seemed to be the perfect solution with getting traffic in down there," Parisi said. "What we're finding is it's difficult to meet everyone's concerns for specific delivery requirements."
One area shop owner, D.J. Tardif Jr., said he watches from his Bearskin Neck Leathers store on the Neck's Old Harbor Road as out-of-town drivers, taken by surprise, attempt to navigate the old road, ending up hopelessly jammed among pedestrians and vehicles.
"They come up here and they don't know their way around. They drive down here. They get stuck," Tardif said. "You get two trucks down here and it's very awkward."
Tardif said he gets all of his shipments by UPS-sized trucks. Tardif said parking in elsewhere and golf-carting supplies into the Neck could be a good idea for those who use larger delivery trucks, but he said the problem could probably be solved with some good manners and common courtesy.
"It's like the Five Corners situation," Tardif said. "Just have some manners. Have some consideration for the other guys.'
But My Place by the Sea restaurant co-owner and chef Kathy Milbury said the idea of bringing supplies in on carts from locations like Dock Square would not work for restaurant owners on the Neck.
"I won't endorse anyone wheeling my food up from Dock Square. It's a health hazard," Milbury said.
Milbury said careful scheduling has been the best solution for My Place by the Sea deliveries. Though Milbury receives shipments daily, she works with the purveyors to schedule deliveries between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
"It's everyone's wish to get them in and get them out," Milbury said — "the drivers, the companies, the restaurants, the residents."
Milbury, who co-owns My Place along with Barbara Stavropoulos, said she stopped using one delivery company that sent bigger trucks and which arrived during difficult hours. Milbury said she frequently reminds the vendors with whom she works to follow her guidelines, she said.
"It's constant. You always have to keep on them," Milbury said.
Though the truck shipments can be a hassle to patrons and merchants who have to step, drive and work around the vehicles, the trucks do provide the food and products for patrons to buy, Milbury noted.
"This is what Rockport is," she said. "It's a tourist destination, like it or not, and we all have to get our goods."
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.