Edgartown selectmen sign off on Sail MV event with strong words

Town officials scolded Sail MV for a perceived last-minute request.

Sail MV director Brock Callen Sr., left, appeared before the Edgartown board of selectmen and other town officials to request permission to stage a kiteboard race from State Beach.  — Photo by Monica Busch

Sail Martha’s Vineyard (Sail MV) Director Brock Callen Sr. walked into an official gale Monday when he appeared before Edgartown selectmen on behalf of the nonprofit in advance of the Vineyard Cup regatta, a four-day sailing event that kicks off Thursday.

Mr. Callen attended the regular selectmen’s meeting to ask officials to sign off on plans to stage a kite-racing competition from State Beach between Bend-in-the-Road Beach and Big Bridge. Specifically, Sail MV needed space to rig and launch kiteboards from the county-owned beach. Mr. Callen appeared before the Dukes County commissioners last week to request permission to use the county-owned beach. Commissioners agreed with the request but Martina Thornton, county manager, who was present at Monday, said she would not sign off on the county permit without formal agreement by the town of Edgartown.

Selectmen signed off the request with the provision that Mass Audubon recommend which entrances be used on each of two days, but gave Mr. Callen an earful over the last-minute timing of the request.

“I’m the last to hear about this,” Edgartown Police Chief David Rossi said. Chief Rossi said he thought the event would be better if planned for the fall.

“It’s going to tie up some of our resources,” Edgartown Fire Chief Peter Shemeth said.

Mr. Callen said he began this process back in February, but he said that no one he spoke to, including conservation agent and parks commission member Jane Varkonda, nor harbor master Charles Blair, ever directed him to selectmen or town administrator Pam Dolby.

“I would have to assume,” said Ms. Dolby, “knowing the department heads the way that I do, that if [Mr. Callen] was talking to Charlie and Jane, then I am absolutely positive that they probably would have said, ‘You have to go to selectmen, you have to go to the parks department, you have to go to the police department.’ It’s a standard procedure for any event in this town.”

Ms. Dolby said that though the beach is state property, any emergency responders would have to come from Edgartown.

“I feel strongly that I’m getting accused of coming in at the last moment,” Mr. Callen told selectmen, following the discussion among town officials. “I have literally followed the directions of every single town person. Mrs. Dolby’s name never came up, and I apologize. That’s just my ignorance.”

“It’s not my name,” Ms. Dolby interjected. “It’s the board of selectmen who permit these things, and the police department that oversees them.”

Town officials agreed that Mr. Callen would be allowed to have kiteboard equipment on the water by 7 am on race days, to ensure minimal disruption to beachgoers who set up early in the day. Chief Rossi requested that Mr. Callen use one truck with a trailer, to cut back on the need for additional parking spaces on the popular beach.

Selectmen Monday also granted permission to Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival to hang a banner on Main Street between July 7 and July 12, in order to promote the event. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit nonprofit Island Collaborative.

Selectman Margaret Serpa asked the board what was with all the banners.

“It’s summer,” Selectmen Art Smadbeck said.