For Damon Cummings, the quarries in Cape Ann are one of the greatest places to relax.
"I love taking my family up there," he said while sitting in the sand at Plum Cove Beach with six other residents who shared a similar sentiment.
As the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday night, each person in the circle -- six feet apart and masked -- shared why they love the quarries and why they fear that misuse could prevent anyone from enjoying them in the future.
While some reminisced about relatives who worked in the quarries, others recalled peaceful mornings walking the water's edge.
Many in attendance agreed that the quarries are an integral part of the culture of Lanesville, a culture that is at risk due to graffiti, litter, and overall misuse.
"It is the natural beauty and the historical significance," resident Deb King said. "I have a concern for the proper management so we don't lose the gems that we have."
The evening conversation was organized by Ward 4 Councilor Val Gilman -- with 1623 Studios' host Heather Atwood and Cape Ann historian Les Bartlett facilitating the conversation -- as a way to brainstorm good quarry management going forward.
According to Gilman's sign-in sheet, there were 37 attendees spread out among four listening groups.
Focused on both Vernon's Pit and Nelson quarries, the discussion included a survey where -- out of those in attendance - 15 people visit the quarries a moderate amount and 22 people go to hike, jog, and walk their dogs.
The others enjoy swimming, meditating and picnicking in the aesthetically pleasing environment.
Going forward, 17 attendees believe a proper and realistic balance between residence usage and supervised/managed times monitored by paid personnel/wardens for visitors to enjoy.
People also suggested the addition of signs and appropriate parking enforcement would help reduce the amount of misuse.
"We need to rebuild the community in a practical way," Bartlett said. "I think that can be done prior to next year."
The discussion did not end with the setting of Wednesday's sun, as Gilman is planning to host a Zoom best practices session later this fall to learn about how other quarries and public swimming areas are managed.
This article will be updated with a survey monkey for people who want to take part in the questionnaire that was distributed at the Plum Cove Beach listening session.
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.