Beach is a public disgrace


To the Editor:

On March 15, the Oak Bluffs finance committee voted 7-1 against purchasing a beach rake/cleaner to restore and maintain town beach.

Despite much lip service attesting to understanding how important the public beach along Seaview Avenue is to the town of Oak Bluffs, the beach — from the ferry terminal to Canonicus Avenue — is a disgrace.

No matter that it is one of the most used beaches on the Island and the first stretch of beach that many of those arriving — year-round, seasonal residents, and the tourists who bring millions of dollars to the Island — see when they disembark in Oak Bluffs. The beach is a rocky, rubble-strewn, uneven, lumpy, bumpy mess of discolored “dredge materials” masquerading ineffectively as sand.

The contempt with which Oak Bluffs elected officials and town managers treat the public beach is astounding. Meetings are held, ideas for improvement and maintenance of the beaches offered by taxpayers, and then — usually in the off-season when seasonal taxpayers are off-Island —  voted down or ignored. The town seems incapable of any constructive action, from purchasing a beach rake to remove rocks and inappropriate “dredge material,” to replacing eroded sand with clean material sifted for rocks, glass, and metal to even putting more and larger trash receptacles along Seaview Avenue from the Steamship Authority to the end of the beach.

Better to risk injury to beachgoers and have trash thrown over the railing into the grass and/or piled neatly beside overflowing cans by frustrated beachgoers, the better for gulls to plunder and further scatter, eh?

Why is there not better access to the beach? Why are beachgoers forced to scramble down sandy, rocky, dangerous impromptu paths or else walk to the one set of steps across from Waban Park? Why are senior citizens denied a safe and level path to the beach, instead of being relegated to walk across and down — trying not to slip and break something — a nasty, dusty mountain of dirt to get to town beach.

Why does a run-off pipe at least 2 feet in diameter protrude from the sand on the left side of the jetty? It is unsightly, inappropriate, and probably unsanitary.

As a lifelong summer resident and longtime homeowner in Oak Bluffs, I can honestly say the town beaches were nicer in the past. Remember when there was a raft? Bathroom? Snack bar? Sand?

The condition of Oak Bluffs beaches is unsightly, dangerous, and enraging. Shouldn’t our waterfront and beaches welcome and accentuate the hallmark of this glorious Island, the ocean? Something must be done. Let’s put an end to the ritual of meeting, beseeching, and ignoring.The beach is a treasure and a concern to year-round and summer residents alike. Most of us use the beach and ocean front. All of us contribute to the tax base in Oak Bluffs. Is it time for another demonstration like the one in 2014? A tax strike by year-round and seasonal residents of Oak Bluffs?


Jill Nelson

Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs