Dredge spoils on Inkwell Beach cause alarm

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.

“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.