The Dukes County Commission heard this week from members of the Eastville Beach committee that they would like to disband.
Eastville Beach is located on the Vineyard Haven Harbor near Lagoon Pond and spans Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. The county owns 5.3 acres of the beach, which includes a shorebird habitat, while Tisbury owns half an acre and Oak Bluffs owns just over three-quarters of an acre.
The committee was formed five years ago because the beach was dilapidated and mismanaged, said Melinda Loberg, chairman of the county commission and a member of the committee. “The beach was decrepit,” she said. “There were a lot of invasive species, and people were worried about the bird sanctuary.”
David Nash, chairman of the committee, said from the outset the committee has had the challenge of working collectively with the three property owners.
While the committee successfully managed parking lot improvements, rebuilt a fence around a nesting shorebird area, cleaned up trash, vegetation, invasive species and more, Mr. Nash said it has been unable to hire personnel to regularly manage the beach because it has no municipal authority.
“We are kind of stonewalled as to what the committee can do,” he said. “We are looking to turn this over to the county and go our separate ways.”
Tristan Israel, county commissioner and committee member, said the small beach requires limited but necessary maintenance in order to keep it from regressing into the same state as five years ago.
“On some kind of regular basis someone needs to pay attention to that beach,” Mr. Israel said. “The beach really fell apart. It was a mess.”
The beach committee report outlined duties, including maintaining parking lots, cleaning up trash and dog waste, vegetation, invasive species and dune restoration. Money to pay for the management could come from remaining Community Preservation Act funds, the report said. It also said there is a need for a written working agreement among the three entities that own the beach.
The commission voted to take the lead in developing a management plan that would include the two towns.
“Now we have to address what needs to be done, who will do it, how often they are going to do it, and if we pursue any further improvements,” said Mrs. Loberg. In other business, commissioners discussed the idea of subleasing a six-acre lot in the airport business park from the Steamship Authority. The SSA currently leases the lot from the airport; the boat line had originally planned to use the lot for parking or administrative offices but has since changed course. The SSA has asked the county if it is interested in taking over the $21,630 annual lease.
Commissioners tossed around ideas for how the county might use the lot, including installing photovoltaic cells that would generate electricity to sell, or using the site for the Center for Living to construct a building.
After the discussion, the commission agreed that more research is needed, but opted to tell the SSA that the county is still interested.