New partnership reviewing beach accessibility 

A new partnership is exploring how accessible beaches are. —MV Times

A coalition of three Island organizations — Healthy Aging MV, the Island Disability Coalition and the Dukes County Commission — launched an Island-wide survey this week to determine needs to make sure that every beachgoer can independently access Island public beaches.

The effort is being called Beach within Reach.

Dukes County Associate Commissioner for Disabilities Richard Cohen says the questionnaire is being sent to each Island town, county officials, Trustees of Reservations, Land Bank, and Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. There are nearly 40 public-access beaches on Martha’s Vineyard. 

The response will be due in two weeks. 

The survey’s 14 questions are seeking information on a wide range of accessibility issues, including the availability of parking and the number of spots designated as accessible, existence of an accessible route from the beach entrance to the water’s edge, and the availability of beach and floating wheelchairs.  

Those involved in developing the survey say it was a thoughtful process.

“Nothing like it has been done before, and we wanted to be sure that recipients understood the true meaning of ‘accessible’ for people with disabilities, from the moment a car arrives at a beach parking area and the beach itself,” said Cindy Trish, executive director of Healthy Aging M.V. CD

Cohen added, “The results will allow towns, the county, and nonprofits to begin or continue the process of improving accessibility. For some it may be a fairly simple project; for others more may be required, but every beachgoer, whether fully able-bodied, a senior with mobility issues, a person with lifelong mobility or vision challenges, or vets with disabilities deserves the best we can make beachgoing.”


  1. How about beach accessibility for Chilmark and Aquinnah that like to keep the beaches to themselves. Handicapped or not, they make it very difficult to visit their beaches, and for the most part not at all.

    • Do the residents of Aquinnah and Chilmark want more beach access in their towns for those who choose to live down or off Island?

    • Should the State dictate each towns beach access requirements.
      Should it funded at the Local, State or Federal level?

    • How about getting your facts straight? Philbin is open to the public, you just can’t park in the town lot.
      Vincent and Squibnocket are both private property leased by the town. The people who own the land specify who can access the beach. It is not up to the town. I have copies of both leases if you’d like to see them.
      Menemsha is open to the public and the lifeguards there derive their wages from the sale of stickers to the other Chilmark beaches. Also, Squibnocket is open to the public before 9 am and after 5 pm.

  2. Maybe it should read how inaccessible so many of the beaches are here. Lucy Vincent, Philbin beach, Squibnocket, Lamberts Cove. Let’s end beach Apartheid. Stop hiding behind the “not enough parking” excuse and do what 48 other states do which make public beaches…open to the public. It’s time.

    • How about letting each town decide what they want for beach access.
      How about having the Federal government make those decisions?

      • In the case of Vincent and Squibnocket, it is not the town’s decision. Both are private property and the leases spell out who can enter. Although the latter beach seems to have extremely lax enforcement of that rule.

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