Beer bash bashed at Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting

Neighborhood residents complained to selectmen about noise and congestion.

The first Martha's Vineyard Craft Beer Festival showcased over 50 breweries and 150 beers from around the country. — Stacey Rupolo

The Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival drew a larger-than-expected crowd of around 1,300 people to Washington Park, adjacent to Our Market and the harbor, last weekend. It also drew the ire of abutting residents, who aired their complaints at Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting.

Residents from the area told selectmen they objected to the amplified music and the conspicuous consumption of alcohol at a small town park.

“Why are we hosting a beer festival in Oak Bluffs; what is the reason for that?” Narragansett Avenue resident Mildred Henderson asked.
Selectman Michael Santoro said the decision rested with the parks department.

Chairman Gail Barmakian said permission was given on a trial basis as part of the effort to bring more business to the town during the shoulder seasons. “It’s an issue in general how the parks should or should not be used,” she said. “We’ll be getting into it more two meetings from now [Oct. 26]. If you want to write a letter about how you think the parks should be used, it should go to the park department. They want to know what you want and what you don’t want.”

“It was horrible,” Chapman Avenue resident Veronica Lytle said. “We are encouraging beer drinking in our town. When people leave, who’s liable?” Ms. Lytle also criticised the lack of neighborhood outreach done by event organizer Erin Bayer Santos. “She slipped something in our door after the fact. She tried to bribe me, that’s how far she went. I didn’t bring it up to the parks department because I felt bad to do that to a woman who’s in business. But she carried it too far.”

Selectman Greg Coogan suggested that the Oak Bluffs police officer in charge of the detail and Ms. Santos be invited to the next selectmen’s meeting to discuss the citizen complaints. “There certainly were things that could have been done better,” he said.

In other business, selectman Kathy Burton kept the moped discussion going, suggesting the town look into limiting the number of moped riders to one per machine. “I see two people wobbling, and I can’t help but think if it was just one person it would be safer,” she said. “It’s so clear to me, especially when you see children on the back.”

Chairman Gail Barmakian moved that the moped discussion be continued at future meetings, and she welcomed ideas from the public.