Menemsha work sparks special town meeting

Former committee member allegedly causes Squibby mischief.

Chilmark's new fire station is taking shape. — Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark’s select board voted unanimously Tuesday night to hold a special town meeting on Sept. 26 at 7 pm. The sole business of the meeting will be to secure $44,000 in funding for Phase II of the town’s commercial wharf project in Menemsha. That project is geared toward replacing about 700 feet of dock and bulkhead. The $44,000 is expected to be taken from the town’s waterways fund and from the harbor budget. 

The money will cover Chilmark’s conditional contribution to a $176,000 Seaport Economic grant. As The Times previously reported, the state grant requires Chilmark to ante up 20 percent of the $176,000, which equals $44,000. Peter Neilly, who has worked with harbormaster Ryan Rossi on several planning and guidance aspects of the project, previously said his best guess was the overall project would cost about $5 million.

Town administrator Tim Carroll gave a report to the board regarding an alleged “disturbance” at Squibnocket Beach — specifically a former beach committee member, who in the eyes of the beach committee had created an alleged disturbance and “caused unnecessary conflict.”

Select board chair Jim Malkin said that he learned after conferring with beach committee chair Clarissa Allen that, allegedly, “[t]he individual had in the past, as well as this season, instructed people, visitors, that they didn’t need to have beach stickers to park, countermanded things that were being told to people by our staff, and was quite disruptive. And it was a frustrating, aggravating, unpleasant experience for our staff involved.”

Carroll displayed the draft of a letter to the individual from the board. The Times later identified the individual as Steve McQuiggan. The letter told McQuiggan to desist from interfering at the beach, and noted McQuiggin wasn’t a town employee. Should he fail to do so, the letter stated, McQuiggan would have his beach privileges revoked. Malkin changed that language to instead read, “further action will be taken by the town.”

Per a Chilmark Police report dated August 27, 2022, McQuiggan allegedly “was telling people they could park in illegal areas and that they could trespass on private property.”

The report, which was written by Officer Bill Fielder, further stated, “I did not speak with McQuiggan, as he did not to my knowledge break any beach rules or laws. In my opinion, McQuiggan merely kept up his long and often internally reported history of making the jobs of the Chilmark Beach staff more difficult than need be.”

Reached by phone Wednesday, McQuiggan “adamantly” denied allegations he interfered with parking at Squibnocket Beach. “I didn’t tell anyone that they could park at Squibnocket without a sticker,” McQuiggan said. McQuiggan said he has merely been critical of lax enforcement of stickers and residential passes at the beach.

“This whole story is completely and utterly backwards,” McQuiggan said. 

McQuiggan went on to say frustrations with “lack of due diligence” and “small town politics” were reasons why he resigned from the beach committee.

In other business, the board got an update from select board member Bill Rossi and the progress of the town’s fire station and Tri-Town Ambulance facility project, describing it as “on time and on schedule.” Rossi said truss work was imminent on the fire station. On Wednesday, Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw said the trusses were expected on Sept. 9, and cement block work on the fire station would be completed by the end of the week. Rossi said a 15,000 gallon water tank arrived on the jobsite ahead of schedule. Bradshaw told The Times it will be used for the Tri-Town Ambulance fire suppression system. Chief Bradshaw described the project as “on budget and doing well.” Bradshaw added that the project is expected to be finished in April, which is ahead of schedule. 


  1. No one from the Chilmark police department nor the beach department contacted me. So the story is quite one sided and wholly inaccurate. There was no conflict or disturbance on the date in question. I had a conversation with two people who were told to leave because they had no sticker. I advised them they could park up at Aquinnah. Another party spoke to me about the parking situation and I said that enforcement was lax at best. For instance, there was a truck in the parking lot with no sticker until 2 pm on that day and no action was taken. It was parked there all day. Another car had a home made sticker that was so obviously fake it was comical. I noticed it because they were parked next to a friend of mine.
    Not once have I ever told people at Squibnocket that they could park there without a sticker. If anything, the opposite is true. Nor have I ever told anyone to park in illegal areas or instructed them to trespass. I did speak about the illegal parking with some other beach patrons, and mentioned that was something that was being ignored.
    I had no interaction with any employee of the beach department and any conversation I had at the beach was with other beach goers. This is a story based on falsehoods and exaggeration. It is totally one sided.
    I will not deny that I have long been critical about the way the rules are enforced at the beaches. I see it as a lack of proper training and management. Residents are made to believe they must purchase a sticker or pass, yet I constantly see non residents being allowed in almost daily. If the townspeople must pay for access, why is it not enforced?

  2. I’ve seen at least one Facebook post this summer on Islanders Talk where the original poster (definitely NOT Steve McQuiggan) claims that no one is checking beach stickers at Squibnocket, more or less inviting people to come on down! There were several comments under that post thanking the poster for the tip.
    Except that it was untrue, at least in my experience. Every time I have gone to Squibby, my beach sticker is checked as I pull into the lot, as always. The lot has been pretty empty the times I’ve gone, and the beach is mostly rocks and pebbles— and empty, which is fine with me.

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