The Oak Bluffs selectmen were treated to a hands-on presentation Tuesday when resident Richard Seelig brought in boxes of sand from Inkwell beach. “That is sand, that is what we come to the beach for,” he said, pointing to one box which held a sample of light brown sand. “And this, this is what has been put on the beach,” he said, indicating a box full of uneven dark brown matter. “This material does not look like sand.” He unveiled a piece of a welding rod, a substance he called iron, and another item which he likened to hard top. He said all of it was recovered from Inkwell beach at the base of Pennacook avenue.
The sand deposits are part of a beach nourishment project at Pay and Inkwell beaches designed to hedge against erosion and sea level rise. But the color and texture of the sand has caused alarm among residents.
“When you walk on this it feels like you are walking on a pavement,” Mr. Seelig said. The selectmen said they have fielded many calls since the dredge spoils were first deposited on the beloved beaches this spring.
Conservation agent Elizabeth Durkee said this week that the town has recycled sand from dredging projects many times before. This particular sample is from dredging in Lagoon Pond done in connection with a new bridge project there.
“It was tested for chemicals, it was tested for grain size compatibility, it is clean and compatible sand,” Mrs. Durkee said. The sand’s dark color, which she said will fade by summer, is the result of being submerged for a long time. The new dredge spoils will be spread out across the beach by the highway department, and will look normal by summer, she said.
“The sun and the rain will bleach it out so by the summer season it will be looking like the same color of the sand that is already there,” she said.
Foreign objects will be removed.
“The beaches are obviously very important to the economy of the town and that is what people come here for, and if we do nothing it will wash away,” Mrs. Durkee said.
In other business Tuesday, selectmen voted unanimously to appoint Gregory A. Coogan as chairman. Selectman Michael Santoro will stay on as vice chairman. Selectman Gail M. Barmakian voted with her colleagues but questioned why she was being passed over for consideration. “Is it this board’s intention to deprive me or prevent me from becoming chairman as long as these people sit?” she asked. She said she had served on the board for some time, and it seemed like everyone got a turn.
Her question went unanswered.
“I am not going to answer your question,” said Walter Vail, the outgoing chairman of the board. “I don’t have an answer for you.”
Mr. Vail was commended for his work in the past year. He and Mr. Santoro were re-elected in the annual town election this month.
The selectmen approved an annual beer and wine license for Linda Jean’s restaurant on Circuit avenue. Owner Marc Hanover said in the past, he just never wanted to deal with it. But lately, more and more people are requesting alcohol, he said.
“The times have caught up, and people want beer and wine with their dinner, mostly for dinner and some with lunch,” said attorney Sean Murphy, representing Mr. Hanover.
Robert E. Clermont, executive director of the Camp Meeting Association, voiced his support for the license.
The restaurant’s hours will not change.
Police chief Erik Blake, who attended the meeting, added his own word of support for the license. Chief Blake said he was at Linda Jean’s on Monday and would have liked a beer with his fish and chips.
Selectmen approved an all-alcohol license for a new restaurant moving into the former home of Sidecar on Kennebec avenue. The management, which also runs Nancy’s Restaurant, plans to serve a small plate menu with craft beers. The restaurant’s name, 20byNine, is an apparent reference to the basic dimensions of the Island.
The board also preliminarily endorsed a plan for a mid-summer music festival on Waban Park, despite prolonged and at times heated discussion about the details of the event.
Producer Phil daRosa is planning a four-hour outdoor music festival on July 12. Selectmen voiced concerns about the timing of the concert and the logistics of charging admission to a public park.
Mr. daRosa has not yet finalized the performer line-up, nor has he resolved issues of parking and festival security.
He said he had initially planned to close off side streets to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, but Chief Blake said this is not possible, as the streets are public ways.
With so many details still fuzzy, Ms. Barmakian said she wasn’t ready to endorse the plan.
“The devil is in the details and when it comes down to details that is what may kill it,” she said.
Mr. Vail expressed a concern that Mr. daRosa lacked adequate experience with organizing large events.
But Mr. daRosa said he had help. “I have a team of people that can help me pull this off in an organized, professional way,” he said.
Mr. daRosa’s father, Dennis, said concerns about parking were overblown, as events in the Tabernacle routinely attract large crowds. “Three thousand people in Oak Bluffs in the summer is not an overgrown situation,” he said.
Amy Billings, a parks commissioner, said her board was struggling with the use of public parks for profit. “If it’s a huge success and he makes a ton of money, where does that leave the park?” she said.
But selectman Gregory Coogan differed, saying it was important to bring culture to the town. “I think Waban is an extremely underutilized park,” he said.
Ultimately, the selectmen gave Mr. daRosa their blessing, provided issues are resolved with all the relevant town agencies.
“We are saying go forth and be successful,” Mr. Coogan said.