Some came straight from the beach with sandy feet, while others had just emerged from a nighttime bath, but the children who attended the Chilmark selectmen’s meeting Tuesday had a single message: don’t close Crab Corner.
“Please don’t close the beach, because I love it,” said Jaden Iantosca, seven, sitting next to his grandfather Paul Iantosca of Chilmark.
“What part of it do you love?” asked selectman and board chairman Warren Doty.
“I love all of it,” Jaden said.
Jaden was one of a handful of youngsters who attended the meeting which drew a small crowd, both for the beach issue and separately discussion of whether to consider allowing alcohol sales in restaurants.
The Crab Corner dispute was aired first. The place in question is a small beach in Menemsha between the new yacht dock and jetty, a favorite place among children for swimming and crabbing.
Harbor master Dennis Jason Jr. said safety has become a concern at the beach.
“I would like to keep Crab Corner open. I enjoy seeing the kids playing in the beach but there is still a danger and it has to be secured,” Mr. Jason said. “There is a danger of kids getting under the dock and there are propellers and nasty things 20 feet away from where the kids are playing.” He added:
“I would like everyone to take note: the harbor master is not the Grinch.”
State law prohibits motor boats from operating with 100 feet of a private or public bathing area. Police chief Brian Cioffi suggested keeping boaters away from the beach by enforcing the law.
In the end the selectmen and harbor master decided to devise a plan to place an extra beach attendant in the area, install mesh netting to keep children from underneath the dock and post signs warning that no swimming is allowed off or under the dock.
Selectman Bill Rossi backed the plan.
“There’s a maintenance issue with the mesh that’s a cost worth taking to assure the safety of children who are swimming during the times when the area isn’t supervised,” he said.
Mr. Jason said he wanted to close the new yacht dock to fishing, calling it an “attractive nuisance” because kids catch jelly fish and leave them on the dock, a slipping hazard foe pedestrians.
But Chilmark parent Mary Murphy Boyd disagreed.
“I hear you Dennis and having kids along the dock can be a pain, but Menemsha is kid-friendly and that’s what we love about Menemsha. We love that Menemsha owns our kids and our kids own Menemsha. Are they going to be an inconvenience sometimes? You bet — but they’re meant to grow up there.”
The selectmen said they would revisit the issue this fall.