Edgartown’s parks commission plans to make a presentation to the Dukes County Commissioners Wednesday as part of an effort to take control of Norton Point, according to Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty.
Norton Point is managed by the Trustees of Reservations, and owned by Dukes County. Hagerty was unable to offer further detail.
County manager Martina Thornton confirmed the item will be on the agenda, but declined further comment.
In a statement to The Times, Darci Schofield, Trustees Islands portfolio director wrote,
“Since 2006, the Trustees has dedicated significant resources and expertise to managing the unique and complex barrier-beach ecosystem at Norton Point. We have embraced this opportunity for more than 15 years, investing in and managing ecologists, stewards, rangers, and volunteers, in order to maintain OSV access and recreational opportunities in balance with conservation needs and requirements, including caring for protected and endangered shorebirds. We are also engaging in a collaborative process with an on-Island working group to hear feedback and draft a new beach management plan that will help us better steward Norton Point today, and in the future.”
The Trustees took a drubbing this past summer when it pitched a beach management plan that included Norton Point. The plan called for over-sand vehicle and dog restrictions, and received widespread criticism, including from Chris Kennedy, a former regional superintendent for the Trustees. The Trustees ultimately withdrew the plan, and not long afterward, president and CEO John Judge, who just got the job, resigned.
It’s unclear what role, if any, the failed plan played in Edgartown’s decision to attempt a management grab. Parks administrator Jessica McGroarty didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
In an interview with The Times Monday afternoon, Kennedy said, “I’m not shocked. I think a lot of it comes down to resources. It takes an awful lot to manage any beach in Massachusetts, especially a barrier beach. I think it comes down to who has the resources to put into Norton Point.” He added that it also comes down to who is willing to commit those resources.
Kennedy said he imagined town officials are “wondering if [they] can’t do a better job.”
Kennedy recalled the debacle the Trustees found itself in during the summer. Since that time, he said, he’s seen a sea change in the organization. “They’re starting to get it,” he said. “They’re starting to understand the level of anger in the community.”