The headline of the Gazette’s March 7 front page article about the proposed changes to the Squibnocket beach, parking lot, and two-lane bridge project was “Careful Study Advised at Squibnocket.” We could not agree more! We urge Chilmark residents to amend article 28 at the town meeting on April 28 to allow time for a thorough, careful study of all possible alternatives to the town’s current plan/direction.
The process that led to only one choice being presented by the Chilmark selectmen and the Squibnocket Farm Homeowners Association was totally nontransparent. Abutting neighbors such as ourselves were told that we were not allowed to know about the plan or give any input until after it was already made public. Since then, there seems to be an unnecessary rush for approval of the town plan without seriously considering alternatives, of which there are several.
We support Chilmark looking at ways to improve the Squibnocket beach. It is an important resource of the town. We also support the Squibnocket Farm properties having a viable access to their houses. And we care deeply about Squibnocket Pond. We want a solution that minimizes disruption to its ecology and ambiance.
Other letters and articles have and will describe the serious drawbacks and potential devastating consequences of the current plan. To summarize, they include: large two-lane access bridge 19 feet off the ground which could cast a shadow on the beach, proposed parking lot on a barrier beach that is subject to storm damage and is several feet lower than the current parking lot, intrusions into Squibnocket Pond, placement of the bridge end/terminus too close to the ocean, etc.
The good news is that resourceful Chilmark folks have independently been devising several viable alternative plans, including a no bridge plan or a one-lane bridge plan with the access road much farther from the ocean. There are possibilities for relocating the parking lot to a more environmentally sound and more convenient location than the proposed one.
All the creative, science-based ideas of how we Chilmarkers can best co-exist with Mother Nature and global warming need to be researched by a transparent, broadly representative group of the stakeholders, welcoming input from a variety of sources. We urge the town to engage a coastal engineer who has expertise in how best to manage changes created by the possible removal of the revetment.
We have faith that Chilmarkers will take the time and utilize existing resources to come up with an excellent solution for Squibnocket.
Rich and Sue Regen