State Beach trash a stinker for beachgoers
The absence of trash bins along Joseph Sylvia State Beach has created quite a mess for beachgoers attracted to the county-managed beach shared by the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.
The approximately two-mile stretch of beach separates Sengekontacket Pond from Nantucket Sound and is popular with families due to the absence of crashing surf and strong currents. But there are few public amenities.
There are no restrooms and no trash barrels along the beach. The town of Edgartown, which owns and manages the southern end of the beach, known as Bend-in-the-Road Beach, provides a lifeguard and trash barrels.
The county relies for trash collection on signs posted at various beach entry points that remind visitors that the beach has a "carry in, carry out" policy. But, the lack of trash receptacles has led to an accumulation of trash along the beach, which is unsanitary for beach patrons and harmful to efforts to protect nesting shorebirds.
"The garbage problem is completely out of hand," said Mary Kay Mazza, the owner of two hot dog stands she sets up in parking areas adjacent to Big Bridge and Little Bridge under a license from Oak Bluffs. "We'll get here in the morning and there will be pizza boxes, Styrofoam coolers with empty liquor bottles and big, white trash bags just full of garbage," she told The Times
Ms. Mazza said that she has contacted both town and county officials about the trash situation, and from her perspective, little has been done to remedy the problem. "Years ago they used to have bins out here and everyone dumped their household trash, so that's why they got rid of them," she said. "But, now, Oak Bluffs says it's Dukes County's responsibility, and Dukes County says, 'Oh, no, it's Oak Bluffs.' This is a state beach, and so they all get away with doing a lot of finger pointing about who is responsible, but nothing really gets resolved."
Dukes County manages the beach on behalf of the Commonwealth.
County Manager Russell Smith said that he periodically sends personnel to pick up trash as needed, but there is not enough money in his $1.7 million budget to routinely deal with the trash problem.
Mr. Smith said that the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) provides an annual grant of $30,000 to assist with the management of State Beach.
Nearly half of that funding is paid to the Massachusetts Audubon Society to monitor and protect nesting shorebirds, and the rest is used for projects like beach nourishment and dune restoration, he said.