Yoga in the park. Boot camp by the bandstand. Concerts on the harbor.

“The parks commission is at our wits end about what to do about all the boot camps, yoga classes, exercise classes,” said park commissioner Amy Billings at a lengthy meeting of the select board Tuesday.

Ms. Billings described an overabundance of private businesses that have begun hosting paid classes in public parks and on town property, including Ocean Park, Waban Park, Niantic Park and downtown beaches.

The classes have become more frequent and increasingly more disruptive, she said, beginning as early as 5 or 6 a.m. and often including music, as well as other exercise equipment.

Ms. Billings said the private classes have begun to worry the parks department because they allow businesses to profit off the space as well as limiting general public uses. She asked the select board to consider steps to minimize and even prohibit the classes.

“They’re basically private trainers who are profiting off the parks, and the beaches and the town property. As far as we know, there’s no business licenses that I know of for any of them,” Ms. Billings said.

A verdant seaside town with a long history of public parks encircling gingerbread cottages in its own emerald necklace, Oak Bluffs has bylaws that preserve the uses of its public space, and specifically public parks.

Town officials said the issue of private classes in the public parks has increased this past year due to the pandemic. — Tm Johnson

Section C in Chapter 28 of the town’s general bylaws stipulates “no commercial activity including, without limitation, signs, notices, advertisement, concessions, or soliciting/selling of goods, services, or articles.”

A subsequent subsection of the bylaw does stipulate that special use permits for events may allow certain prohibited park uses, including soliciting and selling goods or services. But Ms. Billings said an overwhelming number of event applications have begun to inundate the parks department.

“We are trying to control the permitted events that are happening every year . . . I don’t want to get bombarded with applications now to have businesses run on the parks,” she said.

Although private classes and parties have previously been held in the parks, Ms. Billings said the issue has gotten worse this year partly because of the pandemic and social media advertising.

Select board members echoed the concerns. Board member Gail Barmakian said the classes were beginning to be disruptive. “You allow one or you allow two, and it’s open season,” she said. “It does prevent the general public from using what is supposed to be open to them.”

Jason Balboni urged a plan for enforcement.

Board members agreed to work with the parks department and police to begin issuing warnings to business owners and limit the classes. Police chief Erik Blake urged a friendly approach.

“Let’s approach them beforehand, I don’t think a police officer showing up at seven o’clock in the morning, kicking 30 people off the beach is the right approach for the police department,” the chief said.

Later in the meeting, a series of request for smaller events on town property triggered lengthy discussion.

A request from the Urban Farming Foundation to play amplified music at their third annual barbecue in Waban Alley Park in August saw support, while a request for a one-day beer and wine license for a private catered event on Inkwell Beach was tabled.

“I think we’re going down a slippery slope here, and I’m not against having a party, but . . . we’re just opening up a can of worms, and we can’t, I don’t think be allowing this type of private party on a public beach,” said Ms. Barmakian.

The most extended discussion centered on a request for a series of 11 mini-concerts on Wednesday nights on the Oak Bluffs harbor. The concerts would be limited to 100 people and held from late June through early September in the parking lot of the Island Queen ferry.

The sponsors are Henry Wallace, Kathleen Cowley and Sofie Green. Noise, crowd control and underaged drinking were all concerns.

In the end the board settled on preliminary approval for a one-time concert on June 30, pending a more detailed plan from the applicant. The board will meet again Monday for possible final approval.