Dredge spoils on Inkwell Beach cause alarm

Dredge spoils on Inkwell Beach cause alarm

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Dredge spoils from Vineyard Haven Harbor spread on Inkwell Beach. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Several truckloads of dark, grimy material spread over Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs has alarmed residents and set off a storm of protest on social media. The material was dredged from Vineyard Haven Harbor as part of the project to build a new permanent drawbridge.

Town officials say the sand will look like normal beach sand in a short time, though they concede it looks alarming now.

Dredge spoils spread on Inkwell Beach.
Dredge spoils spread on Inkwell Beach.

“It does, but I’ve seen it before,” highway superintendent Richard Combra Jr. said. “With a couple of rainstorms and a little sun, it will bleach right out. By summer time it will be all bleached out.”

The town got similar complaints in 2010, when dredge spoils were used to replenish sand on Jetty Beach.

Dredge spoils spread on Inkwell Beach have been a source of complaints in recent years. Beach users have complained about trash, including broken glass, found in the dredged material, and large pebbles and rocks that make it difficult to walk in bare feet.

The beach has been regularly replenished with dredge spoils, all permitted by federal and state authorities, to replace sand washed away by erosion.


  1. “regularly replenished with dredge spoils, all permitted by federal and state authorities” I suppose this makes it all O.K. then? Sure, lets trust the Government–after all they are overflowing the truth, transparency and doing what’s right for the public.

    1. what’s not to trust ? it’s sand– being moved from one spot to another. It’s been done before. And I don’t see anyone else stepping up and offering to dredge a safe boating channel on one part of the island, and moving the sand to a beach that could use some sand.. So there might be some rocks.. oh, well,.. If you see glass, pick it up and put it in a recycle bin. I get sick of this endless wining about the government.. It gets really old, you know..

      1. Dondon. You should take your own hint and stop supporting your current administration. You know! The transparent, non decisive and non devisive groupe of pAtriotic communists!

        1. My comment makes no mention of the current administration.
          Does the Obama administration have something to do with putting sand on inkwell beach other than having a permitting process that prevents someone like Donald Trump from putting a 20 story casino there ? Or when I demolish a house, I can’t just dump it there and wait for the tide to take it out to sea ? No– The permitting process has been going on ever since we decided we didn’t want to have rivers catching on fire, or raw sewage and municipal trash washing up on our beaches (remember the Jersey shore story ?) http://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/25/nyregion/on-a-clear-day-nary-a-sludge-ball.html )

          We have permitting processes in place to protect the general public from unscrupulous business men and clueless local authorities, and they go on whether there are democrats or republicans in office. Fortunately, for this Island , we have local authorities that are capable of making good decisions, and federal authorities that make sure they are implementing them in a sane and safe manner..
          And name calling, while wrapping yourself in the flag is the last refuge of a —well, you know..

          1. Don Don! If you believe in what you are saying. Than you should check out the state guidelines for beach renourishment materials. Mandatory! Any dredge spoils will have to be tested for toxins ie pollutants. Also all spoil material shall be is compatible grain size. Did the towns of Oak bluffs and Vineyard Haven conservation committees perform these test prior to depositing harbor ( most probably polluted with heavy metals and boat bottom paints as well as nitrogen laden spoil from the lagoon) I’d bet NO. Also to rely on a town highway guy with no professional training in this field to tell you everything is going to be just fine?! An educated individual of your stature should know better. And yes I more than believe the current blowhard administration is

          2. The better question: who is responsible for making sure these soils were tested and compliant with guidelines? and did they do their job?

          3. I am loving it that the conservatives are wanting something tested and regulated !!!! there is hope.. :)

          4. Now don’t go giving me that liberal dribble. Hey! And who said I was the ungodly word Republican! My word! now don’t go insulting me!

          5. Sorry. I never use the “r” word when referring to an individual . I only use it when referring to a political party. I always use “conservative” –[aka the “c” word] or some variation of it when referring to an individual.
            The sensor here even occasionally deletes people for using the other synonymous “r” word, but,in my opinion, only when it fits his bias.

          6. The political banter is my favorite!
            But in the end all of us want what’s good for all of us.
            Oops sorry for my L dribble but I’m on a beach in the Caribbean drinking a nice scotch thinking about how to dodge my tax obligations v( loopholes) come April.
            Wish you were here for a little political jousting, a cigar and a fine single malt scotch! But seriusly someone should ask my question and get a real answer.
            Soon to return and keep you on your toes!

          7. hope you enjoy your stay there,, I was in Barbados last month.. I am outing myself here about who I really am.. Have mentioned my real name a number of times on this site, but I think the times doesn’t let you do that– always deleted very quickly. But you will actually be able to see me reading the times in one of Barbados’s roundabouts sometime soon.
            It really is nice to forget about the carbon footprint and see the footprints in the sand..
            ( I am sure to get some feedback about that, eh ? )

          8. OB Con Com would oversee the project. Ma DEP Chp 91 dredge permit includes a 401 Water Quality Certification which requires testing of the dredged material which would have to be compatible with the material the disposal site.
            A permit to transport the material over the road would also be required. If it did test compatible, it will be fine by summer.

          9. Question is DID they TEST.
            WE should be shown the states findings on this current dredge spoil. Or as usual with OB did they sweep it under the rug?!

          10. Yes, they did test. Dredged material was tested and testing for Inkwell was done previously and is on record. The dredge material was originally supposed to go to Rhode Island. So your question would be who compared the two tests for compatibility. And did Con Com make sure DEP Water Quality okayed it. I think they did.

          11. we can speculate about what test the town performed, or their fields of expertise.
            I would rather the epa cracked down real hard long ago, and made sure heavy metals didn’t get into the lagoon in the first place. If boat bottom paint is so hazardous that it can’t be dredged out of the lagoon and put on a beach, it should be banned. Perhaps someday we will have better products to paint boat bottoms with.
            Nitrogen is better on land than in the water, so a healthier lagoon to boot. Still don’t see a problem. I am happy you are at least concerned about those heavy metals etc..

          12. you know, sometimes I read some of the comments here, and I think half the people commenting here just could care less about the environment.. I am not implying you feel that way.
            But the talk about the epa and government is so bad, and plovers taste like chicken etc. Sometimes it really gets me down.. So nice to find a little common ground.

          13. A lack of humility precludes the need to embarrass yourselves, I apologize but I am working two jobs and just paying my bills when I can, in a few months my mortgage is done and I still savor the sanctity of the Island my heart belongs to. While you are on those other islands the people there most likely have the same opinion of you that I do

  2. Same thing happened at Bend in the Road Beach in Edgartown a few years ago. Some of us thought the beach was ruined but it’s all been smoothed out, thanks to storms, sun, and tide.

    1. actually, going back a bit further, a large portion of state beach was filled in with dredging materials from the pond. With the help of environmentally concerned volunteers, we saved the road, and have healthy beach grass on the dunes for the plovers to live in. The dredging also helped the water flow into the pond which contributes to a healthy shell fish population.
      Sometimes you get win win situations..

  3. You would think that after years of Politically correct items That the term (INK-WELL) would have been a term that would have disappeared, but NO not on the Vineyard You might as well call it N@#%& Beach because we all know where the term INC-WELL came from. But while you have to kiss a dolphin, hug a tree and the Holocaust was a horrible thing,we still have the inkwell or is it N@#$% beach on the Vineyard ????????????????????????????? Now lets all call a spade a spade.

  4. And although most people may think they know me my previous post is not how it sounds or is it??????????????????????????????????????????????

  5. One of the best ways to help prevent the beach erosion is to put back the beach “groines” that used to be there when I was a kid. I have photos of the beach groines between the harbor jetties and the SSA dock for the 1950’s. They show that there was a beautiful beach there, and as the groines, or wooden breakwaters, slowly deteriorated, so went the beach. Saving the beach right from the start will mean we won’t have to keep bring in soil from somewhere else to recycle the beach. I think this would save money in the long term.

  6. I think the new sand color at the inkwell looks ten times better then the decaying store fronts of Main Street ob