Withdraw the plan


To the Editor:

I write as a response to the recent MV Times article “Trustees leadership responds on OSV and dogs,” by Richard Saltzberg from July 20.

As an avid beachgoer and trained ecologist, I found the article infuriating. The Trustees’ remarks only underscore Chris Kennedy’s observations about a lack of community understanding and historical use. The comments also came across as paternalistic, condescending, and, frankly, ignorant.

The word compromise implies that the Trustees would rather a much broader ban on OSV use. What were they thinking? Fifty percent ban is our dream, but we’ll throw them a bone and give the peons 75 percent and call them lucky to their face? Maybe they seriously considered a full ban on everyone except essential vehicles. That would certainly solve some of their current legal issues.

Additionally, I am exhausted by this argument that since every other beach manager made a decision to ban dogs, the Trustees should unilaterally decide to follow suit. This is the exact argument AGAINST closure for dogs. By closing these beaches, the Trustees would be effectively closing the rest of Martha’s Vineyard’s beaches to dogs and their families for good. This will completely change generational beach plans. This is extremely sad.

Lastly, the 90-plus-acre loss of beach to erosion statistic is probably fairly close to true. What is either a dramatic overstatement, an outright fallacy, or just two Trustees representatives throwing out an opinion is this idea that OSVs had anything to do with this erosion. The vast majority of this beach loss occurred at Wasque Point. I watched the whole thing happen firsthand over the years.

Because of the more intense winter nor’easters and the opening of the cut, an immense amount of land drifted off into the ocean. The Schifters moved their house because of it. But to say that OSVs had any causal relationship to these erosion losses is preposterous to someone who has been steadily watching. To this day, the vast majority of the bluff erosion there occurs in the winter, when there are no trucks around.

Peter Sliwkowski, the founder of Martha’s Vineyard Beachgoers Access Group, and I keep using the word devastating to describe our psyches if the Beach Management Plan goes through. If they’d like to throw the word empathy around, please understand how devastated my way of life would be because of your decisions. Please empathize with me and withdraw this plan.

If you nearly weep at the thought of stretches of beach being closed off forever each time you go past your dogless Chilmark beach; if it makes you consider leaving the Island or vacationing elsewhere; if it makes you feel uprooted and community-less; if you can’t walk so well, but love the beach and its majesty; if you want your great-grandkids to experience what you could; if you feel a devastating loss approaching; if you feel any of those things like we feel them, then use that empathy to keep public access open.

Remember, this looks to the public like it is a unilateral, backroom deal being put forth by unelected officials in the public’s name.

There is simply no other recourse except a lawsuit if things proceed. There is no one to vote out. I doubt if anyone bringing this about will be here in two years. No one was here two years ago.

Withdraw this plan.


Jonathan Herman