Eastville ‘abandoned and forgotten’

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To the Editor:

Eastville Point Beach, for those who do not know, is located right off the bridge connecting Vineyard Haven with Oak Bluffs, in Oak Bluffs. This five-plus-acre property, waterfront on two sides, was the site of the Mary Guerin Inn back in the ’60s. It extends along the jetty that divides Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs out into the harbor, a very prime location. It is an extremely valuable piece of beach real estate. This spring it resembled an abandoned industrial park. The part owned by the county is being used as an industrial storage site by the Lynch highway contractors, and the very small parking lot owned by the town of Oak Bluffs is an abandoned pothole center. One description that suits it well over the past 20 years is “abandoned and forgotten.”

Although the county has apologized for letting the highway contractor use the site, it should never have happened. The beach supervisors said they did not know it was restricted.

This was not what my three sisters and I had in mind when we decided to dedicate it as a public beach for the people of the Vineyard in memory of our mother and father, Leo J. Convery and Irene Prada Convery. We specifically set out in the deed that it was for conservation, but for people not birds. This was in December 1977. The Land Bank had not come into being. We were left trying to find an organization to accept it and administer it. The town was not happy with the gift, and it shows. They turned and gave it to a conservation group who made most of it into a bird sanctuary, in direct opposition to our wishes. Access by people is very secondary, and recreation is not encouraged by the owner managers.

  1. The deed specifically states: “The property shall be used strictly for conservation for all recreational purposes, including without limiting for the generality of the foregoing swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and boating.”
  2. “The use of the property shall be permitted to all persons regardless of where they are resident,”
  3. “No charge shall be made to anyone for the use of the property unless improvements are made thereon, and then only to cover the cost of making and maintaining such improvements.”

We were recently at the memorial service for Paul Watts held at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven. Looking across the harbor to Eastville Point brought home the big difference. Owen Park’s beautiful landscaping and the welcoming planning of its layout and easy utility, to be used by Islanders. Eastville Beach, by contrast, shows how badly it is used and misused and, for all practical purposes, abandoned.

I want to see if this can be corrected. Perhaps it is time to change the current management and see if perhaps we can get the Land Bank involved to take it over. This potentially magnificent site needs to be properly managed. It should be open in its entirety as set forth under the intentions of the donors to people! And, yes, conservation can be for people!

If you the people of the Vineyard can help, I need you to write to the town and county and stress how Eastville Point Beach is being misused. Tell them the highway contractor must get their stuff off the property, and to clean it up, and fix the road and parking areas, restore it like the multimillion-dollar site this is. Tell them that Land Bank ownership is the way to go. The Land Bank owns the small beach right across the street, and it is in great shape.

The Land Bank has the ability to manage property of this type. It has the funds to manage it. Tell the county and the town you favor the Land Bank idea to gift it over. Let’s make this site viable and usable for the people of the Vineyard it was intended to serve.

Call or write to Dukes County Commission, 508-696-3840, P.O. Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539, Christine Todd, chair; and Oak Bluffs select board, 508-693-3740, 56 School St., Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, Ryan Ruley, chair.

Leo Convery, for the Convery family
Edgartown