Nearly six months after a Squibnocket Beach restoration plan was narrowly defeated by voters, a town committee that has been working to develop alternative proposals is ready for a progress report to the town.

Committee chairman James Malkin will give his report to voters at a special town meeting on Monday, the first major benchmark in the committee’s mission so far. In a conversation with the Gazette this week, Mr. Malkin said he was happy with the progress since June when the committee’s work began, but noted that public meeting laws “require a very methodical process.”

The eight-member committee was appointed following the town meeting in April, when voters narrowly rejected a proposal to build a raised causeway for access to the homes at Squibnocket Farm, relocate the town parking lot and greatly expand the town’s beach holdings.

“I think we’ve been very open to things, I think we’ve all learned a lot, and I’m satisfied with how we’ve gone so far,” Mr. Malkin said.

Town committee will spend $20,000 to evaluate various proposals. — Mark Lovewell

At the time of the vote, tensions were running high, especially between the Squibnocket Farm Homeowners Association, which had worked to develop the proposal with the selectmen, and residents in neighboring Blacksmith Valley, who felt too much of the process had happened behind closed doors and worried how the changes would alter the beach area, which is visible from their neighborhood.

Since then the Friends of Squibnocket, an association that includes Blacksmith Valley residents, has spent several months developing an alternative proposal.

And on all sides, tensions are still running high. There have been private meetings among homeowners and some emails and other correspondence have been kept out of the public record, Mr. Malkin confirmed.

There is disagreement over many details, including the benefits of a proposed dune ridge, the location and design of a new road and other highly technical points. A few residents have presented conceptual proposals, but the two homeowner groups, both of which are well-funded by their members, have held center stage in the process.

Mr. Malkin said this month that the two groups appear to still be polarized.

“We have heard from the [Squibnocket Farm Homeowners Association] that a dune is not acceptable,” Mr. Malkin said at a recent committee meeting. “And we have heard from the [Friends of Squibnocket] that a causeway in a different position is not acceptable to them. So positions seem to be hardening.” He suggested that the committee consider a shorter causeway that would span a narrow point in Squibnocket Pond for emergency access, in addition to the proposed dune ridge and gravel road. “That might be a way — and I use this term advisedly — to bridge the gap between these two positions,” he said.

An earlier effort to bridge the gap never came to fruition. Mr. Malkin had asked town residents Leonard Jason Jr. and Clarissa Allen to facilitate closed-door discussions between the two groups, but the meetings never took place.

Charles Parker, a spokesman for the Friends of Squibnocket, said Wednesday that members of the two groups had been communicating in less formal ways. “It’s not like there have been no communications,” he said.

Mr. Malkin said experts hired by each group have been communicating with each other, and that the groups “are pulling together the minutes of those discussions to find out where the experts agree, where they disagree, and where they are trying to figure out whether they agree or disagree on various points.”

Ravaged by Sandy and waiting for the next storm: how to best rebuild entrance road is point of disagreement. — Mark Lovewell

One Squibnocket Farm resident who did not want to be named described internal divisions and a “bitter battle” within the homeowners association over an attempt to counter the original plan.

In his efforts to stay focused on the task at hand, Mr. Malkin has excluded from the public record some email correspondences that he said were “beyond the issue of a proposal, answers to questions or statements of position.” He said some of the emails included questions about the private meetings, and some were attacks on individuals. “My view is, I don’t think that stuff should go on the website because that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing,” Mr. Malkin said. “We’re supposed to be dealing with proposals and issues and facts.”

David Damroth, who regularly attends the committee meetings, noted that he was the subject of at least one of the letters, and believed those points of view should be on record, despite the tone. “It’s very important to illustrate the tenor of some of the opposition,” Mr. Damroth said. “And I think it’s very important for the committee to understand the drivers — that as opposed to having a sincere genuine public debate, there is a serious effort of some people to portray this in a personal way.”

Mr. Malkin reiterated that the committee’s final recommendation should be based on facts rather than personalities. “That should not be part of the record and should not be part of the consideration,” he said. “That’s not part of what I’m doing.”

Last week the selectmen approved a $20,000 request from the committee to hire experts for cost estimates related to the new proposals. But the selectmen also expressed concern that at the end of the committee’s mission, the two groups would remain polarized. Committee member Jane Slater scolded the selectmen for appearing cynical when they chuckled over the possibility of calling a special town meeting to decide whether to grant the funding request.

“The committee is taking this very seriously and we’re working very hard,” Mrs. Slater said. “We’re listening to a lot of people, we’re talking to people who are explaining things to us that we’ve never heard of before. We’re trying to understand, and coming back to you with recommendations based on us having paid hard attention.”

Tensions are running high about plans to repair Squibnocket beach.

Selectman Warren Doty took the comment to heart: “I will admit that my cynicism is not about the committee. It’s about the situation,” he said. “The situation is that we have two entrenched camps that disagree about what should happen at Squibnocket. And they’ve disagreed at every meeting that I’ve ever attended.”

Rosalie Hornblower, a Squibnocket Farm member who favors the dune ridge solution, said this week that she was grateful for the committee’s work so far. “The selectmen are not playing the part that we had hoped,” she said. “They seem to just be hanging still on the original plan, which was defeated, and they don’t seem to be wanting to engage in any civic conversation.”

Despite the tensions, members of both groups take issue with the idea that their views are hardening. Mr. Parker said this week that the Friends of Squibnocket “have just barely been able to say what our position is and we aren’t really finished with it. So to say that our position is hardened, is a bit premature on anybody’s part.”

He said he believed the political atmosphere surrounding the Squibnocket issue has changed for the better since April, when both sides were more deeply entrenched. “The committee has allowed the town to take a step back and take a look at this in a rational way, and that’s always good,” Mr. Parker said.

Ms. Hornblower is working within her group to help keep alternatives on the table. “We are really trying to spend every moment on this, and it still seems that a lot of people really don’t realize what’s going on,” she said. “We want to agree and that’s really hard right now.”