Extending residents-only hours at Squibnocket Beach under consideration
The Chilmark beach committee is considering whether to extend the residents-only Squibnocket Beach closing time from 5 to 7 pm, thus closing off the beach to the public during those hours.
Although the committee is seeking extra funding for a second lifeguard and second parking attendant, both of whom will work until 7, the committee has not decided yet on the extended hours.
"We will definitely staff it until 7. It's just not safe," beach superintendent Martina Mastromonaco said Wednesday. "Safety is my number one concern."
Squibnocket Beach is quiet during the winter months but has become increasingly popular in summer. File photo by Sarah Omer
Ms. Mastromonaco said that the limited parking lot is the real problem at the beach and the reason for the extra parking attendant.
The two extra employees would work as a team to cover the beach, which has become much more popular in the last four years since the rocks disappeared under a carpet of sand. Many non-residents have been lining up at the parking lot entrance and along the road just before 5 pm, causing a lot of congestion. Ms. Mastromonaco was expected to present the beach committee's expanded budget for the extra employees to the Chilmark finance committee last night.
The beach committee members disagree over whether to extend the beach resident-only hours. Committee member Ian Fein said some of the members, and he is one, are concerned about shutting people out. He said he doesn't believe the hours will be extended this year. The committee may hold a public hearing on the issue in April.
Committee member Arlan Wise agreed there are differences among the committee members. "Nothing is totally decided," she said, but she said she believes the committee is leaning toward the extended hours. A hearing could be the deciding factor, she said.
Ms. Mastromonaco said she hopes extra monitoring of the parking lot will be enough so the committee won't have to require stickers for the non-residents who enter the beach after 5 pm. "With the parking attendant, we should be able to keep it under control," she said. "If not, we will have to shut it to non-residents."
With cooperation on the parking from the beach-goers, the parking situation should be manageable, she said.
"I think it will all work out," she said.