Kiteboarding sails on, despite pushback from committee

Edgartown selectmen will hold joint meeting with marine advisory committee.

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Edgartown’s marine advisory committee recommend not renewing Skyhigh Kiteboarding’s business license.

Selectmen allowed Mark Begle to continue operating his Skyhigh Kiteboarding business, despite a recommendation from the marine advisory committee that no commercial marine business renewals be approved.

Begle’s business teaches private kiteboarding lessons to students. Kiteboarding is an action sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding, and sailing into one extreme sport, and has gained significant popularity on the Island, and on Cape Poge in particular.

Town administrator James Hagerty told selectmen the committee raised concerns about the recreational aspect of Cape Poge, and the speed of kiteboarders, which would negatively affect shellfishermen. Hagerty said the best solution was a joint board of selectmen and marine advisory committee meeting to get to the bottom of the recommendation.

“Per [the marine advisory committee’s] last meeting, they do not recommend to the board of selectmen to approve any renewals for commercial marine for kiteboarding due to various concerns at Cape Poge,” town administrator James Hagerty said.

Begle, who said he’s been in business for 17 years, said the committee’s decision came as a surprise. “I have yet to receive a single complaint,” Begle said. “The town’s decision will have a significant impact on my income and my ability to support my family here on the Vineyard.”

Selectmen did not vote, but said Begle could continue operating his business, and a joint meeting would be set up to discuss the issues.

“My mission has always been to give the right of way, to promote safety, to educate kiteboarders how to use a space safely, and it’s unfortunate the marine advisory board wasn’t behind me on this,” Begle said. He added that he was only responsible for his classes and students, and couldn’t control recreational kiteboarders.

In other business, Stefanie Wolf, owner of Stephanie Wolf Designs in Edgartown, was given the greenlight to sell her jewelry outside her shop on North Water Street on Fridays and Saturdays.

Wolf’s is one of the many businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Wolf asked selectmen for permission to sell her wares out front of her shop, but town officials said it was a complicated request.

Lisa Morrison, the town’s zoning board assistant, said the only mention of selling outdoor merchandise is in the sign bylaw. The town bylaw states that clothing, dry goods, and foods are “generally not considered appropriate for outdoor display,” but it does say businesses wishing to display merchandise can submit an application with a layout plan for how they will display merchandise.

“I would say that the selectmen would have to agree that these are not general times. Therefore because they’re not general times, then merchandise that is not generally appropriate for outdoor display maybe is appropriate for outdoor display now,” Reade Milne, the town’s building commissioner and town sign enforcer, said. 

Morrison said that Wolf’s request was also unique in that it would be expanding on private property, not on town property.

While selectmen did not take a vote, they told Wolf to go ahead with selling outside on Fridays and Saturdays.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Kiteboarding will negatively affect shell fisherpersons ?
    Ok — I’m gonna come down on the conservative side here and remind the selectpersons that they can’t make every person safe form everything. The “nanny state” label applies here. It’s ridiculous to shut down this business.

  2. Let’s see. People want to chase away the business that educates students on being good stewards of the sport. That leaves the uneducated to tear the place up. Sounds like boating laws in Mass. Buy your boat, Register your boat, you have free reign to the waterways. Is anyone banning boats in there? Could I really go 50 knots in there with my over horsepowered whaler? Make a huge wake and knock over someone digging for clams? Let’s ban all usage, including shell fisherman and all the problems go away. And then the selectman can focus on real issues.

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