To the Editor:
As an abutter to the proposed bridge at Squibnocket, I would ask that the town and all interested parties slow the approval/permitting process to consider alternative proposals.
I have known several of the residents of Squibnocket Farms for many years and share their concern about access over a vulnerable half mile coastal road in an environment of rising sea levels and erosion. However, their proposal to build a 400-plus-foot long steel and concrete bridge rising 15 feet above sea level will effectively close access to Squibnocket Beach at a beloved swimming and surfing location. This substantial hard structure — something one might find in an urban setting — will permanently mar a natural landscape.
The town of Chilmark and Squibnocket Farms have proposed a public/private solution that would move the beach west into an area called Mussel Shoals that they suggest could be augmented by additional sand. Geologists and coastal experts are deeply conflicted over the outcome of beach nourishment — it would almost certainly change the dynamic of the surfing at Squibnocket. Parking for the newly located beach is to be located along the vulnerable coastal roadway mentioned above.
A group of concerned year-round and long-term summer residents in Chilmark have come together to identify alternatives. Two possible alternatives that would provide secure access have already been proposed, and there may indeed be several others.
There are simply too many flaws in the current proposal — from the underlying assumptions to the projected outcomes. Are alternative design and location proposals possible? Does this project fall under DCPC — could it even be permitted? We owe it to ourselves to slow down and carefully think this through as a community. On the night of April 28, there is a special town meeting to vote whether the town should proceed with this project as proposed (warrant Article 20). I urge all Chilmark residents to attend.