To the Editor:
In November 2011, at a special town meeting, the West Tisbury Park and Recreation Committee proposed a regulation that would allow dogs access to Lambert’s Cove Beach (LCB) from September 16 to June 14 each year, not allowing them access June 15 to September 15. The new regulation passed with much discussion. Petitioners have brought the issue back again, to be decided at this April town meeting.
This difficult decision by the park and rec to allow dog access only during the non-summer months came after years of trial and error and attempts by dog owners to manage their dogs on the public path and on the beach. Broken bones due to dog encounters, feces, dog fights and dogs climbing onto or clawing swimmers are just some of the challenges faced by the early-morning beach users. Picnics disturbed, feces deposited, and reclining beach goers surprised by dogs are issues in the evenings. The problem is really one of density. LCB is one of the few, if not the only beach, that has allowed dog access during the summer months. It has also become an extremely popular beach from dawn to dark. The parking lot is always full, and the beach is crowded. Too many people, too many dogs, and their needs often conflict.
There was a forum held recently to come together and share concerns and possible solutions to this issue. While expertly moderated by Pat Gregory, and with empathy expressed all around for each side’s position, no easy answers were found.
LCB is an uncommonly beautiful place, now open to all bipeds in the early mornings and evenings, regardless of town residency. Fear of physical harm, distaste for feces, fecal bags hung on trees and in the woods, and uncomfortable encounters with dogs led the park and rec to offer up this compromise. There are many places to walk dogs on Martha’s Vineyard, there are few places to swim in and walk on a protected cove. Nobody wants to say no to neighbors and friends who love their dogs and horses. But it is time to try this compromise and say yes to people during the three months of summer at LCB. This seems like a fair compromise. Let’s share.