Updated Oct. 14
Beach Road Weekend, the late-summer music festival held in Tisbury’s Veterans Memorial Park, received repeated support and compliments from a host of people Wednesday at a select board meeting.
Josh Goldstein of the Mansion House, J.B. Blau of Copper Anchor, Sarah York of C.B. Stark, and Jeff Canha of Husselton Head Oysters were among the business leaders who praised the event and declared it economically beneficial.
Neighbors also spoke positively of the music festival. Steve May, who lives on Causeway Road, said, “I’m a strong supporter of Beach Road Weekend.”
Highlighting what he saw as the care festival management had taken to be respectful of abutters, May said festival truck drivers who parked along Causeway Road were careful about the plantings in his yard. May saw this as a reflection of festival promoter Adam Epstein’s overall approach.
“You could tell, in the interactions with Adam, that he cared about us being next-door neighbors, and wanted to know what we thought as the thing was going on — not just weeks in advance or after, but during it,” May said.
Canha, who has an eyesight deficiency, said Beach Road Weekend staff went out of their way to make sure he could enjoy the festival regardless of his disability.
“When I arrived there, I went over to a booth, and they strapped an ‘accessible’ band on my arm and led me up onto a raised platform in front of the sound booth,” Canha said. “I’m telling you, that Sunday at Beach Road festival could possibly be the best day of 2022 for me except for finding out that papers can be taken out tomorrow to fill Mr. Gomez’s position until the next election.”
Canha didn’t specifically announce he was running to fill Gomez’s seat, and couldn’t immediately be reached the next day for comment.
Former select board member Jeff Kristal, a bed and breakfast owner, took a playful shot at Epstein before extolling his three-day music event. “Everyone has nice things to say about Adam,” Kristal said. “I don’t really care for Adam, but he put on a heck of an event. This is something good for the town and for the Island.”
If need be, Kristal recommended tweaking the number of attendees and the start and stop times of the shows, depending on input from town departments.
Kristal pointed out other towns have signature events such as Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs, the Fourth of July parade in Edgartown, the Agricultural Fair in West Tisbury, and the Outermost Inn brunch in Aquinnah. Kristal said Tisbury now has a “showcase” event that supports local musicians, boosts the local economy, adds “embarkation revenue,” and increases meals and lodging taxes.
“I’m in support of the festival,” Idalyn Macchia-Gilstad said. “I’m a resident and taxpayer of Tisbury, and I feel like this is just the shot in the arm that our town has needed for years, and it exceeded my expectations; the people were great; the help was great; the food was great; the music was stupendous.”
Camp Jabberwocky staffer John Knower told the board Epstein has gone out of his way to accommodate the special needs campers.
“Each time there’s been a Beach Road Weekend, Adam has invited the whole camp and made us feel so welcome,” Knower said. “And his team coordinates with the police and makes it easy for me to drop them off with the red bus, and his team gets us up and gets us great seats, and their parents come with them — everybody when they leave cannot believe what a wonderful experience it is. And the campers, it’s the highlight of their summer. So on behalf of everybody at Camp Jabberwocky, we’d like to thank the Beach Road Weekend for making it the best weekend of the whole summer for the campers.”
“As a resident of Tisbury, I’m also loving the fact that we really did well with this concert,” select board member John Cahill said. “And my business itself did well [Cahill owns a Hertz rental agency] … So my only goal would be to make some improvements. And we just need more time to figure out what those improvements would be, from hearing from everyone.”
It wasn’t all praise for the festival. While nobody outside town government spoke out on the Zoom, town administrator Jay Grande told the board some complaints had come across his desk. Grande told the board he held a “post-concert assessment meeting” on Oct. 5. “Some of the discussions led to some recommendations,” Grande said. “But overall, the finding by staff was that the event went smoothly, particularly from a public safety perspective, and the actual numbers of attendees for the concert [were] more than manageable by our public safety officials. The maximum attendance from time to time was 10,500 attendees.”
Among the recommendations, according to Grande, was getting a better handle on the opening and closing of the Lagoon Pond Bridge. Grande said the opening and closing of the bridge was of concern, particularly when a storm hit during one day of the festival, and folks trying to get to Oak Bluffs were hampered.
“So there needs to be some closer communications with the operator of the Lagoon Pond Bridge,” Grande said.
Grande said some “parking issues” also arose on Skiff Avenue and Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. He suggested more proactive measures were needed on those roadways.
Grande said a desire remained to have SSA ferries diverted from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven. Such diversions would have aided with bridge-related traffic and with those trying to escape foul weather.
Without citing who made the complaints, Grande said town hall received some complaints from neighbors, including about noise levels, lack of passability to a bike path, and odors emanating from porta-potties.
Email correspondence sent to the town showed one person in particular, Laurie David, was displeased with the entire event. David’s email wasn’t included in information The Times received from the town following a records request. It was shared with The Times by David. Grande, in a follow-up to The Times records request, said David’s email didn’t come up in his search.
“The question regarding the Beach Road music festival isn’t, Did people have a good time,” David wrote. ”They did. Nor is the question whether the promoter pulled off this ‘monstrous’ event; he did. The real question is, What are the costs, seen and unseen, and is the size and scale of the concert appropriate for our fragile island?”
David went on to argue the festival was deficient in waste management, in supporting local businesses and local transportation vendors, and in preserving the turf at Veterans Memorial Park. David also wrote that the festival produced unacceptable emissions and sewage. David wrote that the festival asked too much of municipal services and infrastructure.
In the public records obtained by The Times, Grande wrote to Epstein about the condition of the field. “Kirk has indicated that the field restoration is not nearly adequate,” Grande wrote, referencing DPW director Kirk Metell. The email alleged “seed slice” was not done, and that glass was found in the field.
Epstein offered a detailed rebuttal that included before and after drone photos, and details from the company he hired, about what was done to the field. Epstein said since no glass products were sold at the festival and teams of people scoured the field for trash, he’s not sure where the glass came from that was found. To allegations that the glass was in topsoil used by his contractor to repair the field, Epstein offered to hire a team to check.
“Additionally, I find it coincidental that Ben Robinson found glass in the field today, after he had been walking that field for two weeks looking for flaws and finding nothing, and only after I had a very contentious phone call with the team from the Field Fund on Tuesday morning,” Epstein wrote in an email Sept. 16. “There is simply no way I had anything to do with the glass found in the field. Not a chance … Although I doubt it thoroughly, if the topsoil provided by Jon Fragosa contained glass, I’m certain that he would be accountable enough to address it and remedy it. Jon is a man of integrity who is willing to defend his work.”
Indeed, Fragosa defended his work in an email saying screened topsoil from Goodale’s was used. He was somewhat critical of how the field is maintained, and offered a suggestion for town leaders who answer the complaints. “In any case, there are also too many people who know too little about turf making assertions that are not based on facts … maybe the best thing in the future is to have the restoration plans and budget in place ahead of time so the town officials, who field (no pun intended) the questions and or complaints, can have a better grasp and feel for the process and be better able to explain to the individuals who inquire.”
Fragosa added that the field would look better in a few weeks.
As Grande referenced during the meeting, there is an email from John Zannini of SALT MV complaining about odors from porta-potties. Zannini said electrical cables to his business were also knocked down by a truck delivering to the festival.
“Beach Road Weekend has had quite a negative impact on my business for the entire period of setup through dismantling, for the third year in a row,” Zannini wrote. He pointed to trucks causing dust and customers unwilling to go to his business because of the “chaos and traffic.”
In an email response, Epstein blamed the foul “dead fish smell” on something emanating from the former Hinckley’s.
Maura Valley, the town’s health agent, inspected the portable toilets, and found no odor “except the freshener used in the units.”
Other emails obtained in the records request include one from Silvia Vogt, a neighbor of the festival, who asked that neighbors be able to use the park’s bike paths during nonfestival hours, and there are dozens of emails from town departments trying to iron out payments from Beach Road Weekend to police and fire departments.
Per an agreement with the town, Epstein pays $37,500 to the town to license the festival, plus $2,500 for a showing of “Jaws.” Epstein also pays for police, ambulance, fire and DPW services.
Use of the fire department cost Epstein $14,905, and $36,010 for the Tisbury Police Department. It also cost $5,280 for use of the Edgartown Police Department, $4,196.36 for the West Tisbury Police Department, and $5,070 for the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office.
Grande said another meeting on the concert will be held in the first week of November, and will be in person at either the Tisbury Emergency Services Building or the Tisbury Senior Center. On Oct. 18, via a town bulletin, it was announced the meeting would be Nov. 3 at 4:30 pm at the Tisbury Senior Center (34 Pine Tree Road).
Updated with some of the correspondence from a public records request.