To the Editor:
Thank you Jill Nelson for your excellent letter on the state of Oak Bluffs beaches — namely Pay and Town (March 24, “Beach is a public disgrace”). Shame on the board of selectmen, the conservation commission, and parks and recreation for unequivocally abandoning the beaches. They patronize us when they speak; they reprimand us for not “really understanding” the problem; they talk constantly about lack of money. A poverty mentality for a beach rake? A poverty mentality, period.
Martha’s Vineyard is an island. Beaches are a mainstay. Beaches are the responsibility of elected officials. We who own a seasonal home in Oak Bluffs pay more in property taxes as a group than full-time residents. We come to the Island for the beach. We are an important part of the fabric of Oak Bluffs and we deserve to be respected. Jill is correct: we are ignored.
What I fear most is incompetence: The inability of elected officials to get, understand, and employ the expertise necessary to address the disaster that are the beaches. What they put on our beaches last year, alone, (which they called sand) shows contempt, in my opinion. And it’s been ongoing for years: forget that we have no proper access to the beach; forget we have to beg in June for trash barrels — June, like they forgot summer was coming and how about May — forget that when we get barrels we get four for a mile of beach. Menemsha has 10 barrels in a 30-yard span. They either have more money or they are stealing them from Oak Bluffs. Or perhaps they are competent and mindful enough to recognize the need. We’ve been doing this dance for years.
I come by this fear honestly. Who is the person who thought that dragging a two-foot black pipe 100 or so feet to the water’s edge was a good idea? Seriously. That’s where we spent money?
It’s not difficult to fix the beach from the SSA to Canonicus. I fear that our town fathers do not know where to find the expertise. I fear perhaps they wouldn’t recognize expertise. I fear they will simply revert to money and I am not at all sure that there is a lack of it. Not at all, only an imperative is lacking. I’ve lost complete confidence in those who are responsible for our beaches. I’m so upset. Since last April, when we saw the rubble on the beach (for this year’s dump) we have been reaching out, emailing, researching to bring information to the town, meeting and meeting again and we are nowhere.
I think it’s time for a change in leadership. There is none when it comes to beaches.
Sudbury, Oak Bluffs