As elected officials and residents up-Island balk at the prospect of offshore sand mining, the town of Oak Bluffs is voicing support for the venture.

At a selectmen’s meeting early this week, town administrator Robert L. Whritenour said Oak Bluffs beaches stand to benefit from new information laid out in the draft state Ocean Management Plan, under review this fall.

Oak Bluffs is one of many towns statewide with public beaches that are slowly disappearing due to erosion and major storm damage. Some are looking for sand to replenish their beaches, according to the ocean plan, which seeks to identify suitable spots for dredging offshore sand deposits.

Oak Bluffs beaches were replenished with dredge spoils from the Tisbury drawbridge project last spring, but the quality of the sand came under strong criticism from townspeople who complained that the sediment contained pieces of metal and carried a strong odor.

Town officials have since been looking for alternative sources of sand.

“There is little sand left in our coastal system to naturally nourish our beaches,” Mr. Whritenour wrote in a letter to the state office of Coastal Zone Management. “Inland sand resources are limited and expensive.”

The draft state ocean plan maps a handful of possible dredging locations, including a large area off the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard. The sites would host up to three pilot projects for public benefit in the next five years.

But at least one town on the north shore is wary of projects that might disturb seabed habitat or disrupt the fishery.

During a meeting with Coastal Zone Management officials last week to discuss the draft ocean plan, Chilmark selectman Warren Doty and others expressed strong concerns about sand mining.

“The health of the ocean demands that you don’t do sand mining,” Mr. Doty told CZM leaders. “We are not improving the health of the ocean by digging up the benthic environment.”

The practice is already allowed under state law, though extensive permitting is required.

At the Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, Mr. Whritenour called the issue “complicated,” acknowledging that some people consider the practice of sand mining to be a threat to ocean habitat. But he said the town would support dredging with an environmentally friendly approach.

“I feel in no way would we contemplate beach nourishment in a way that is haphazard or threatens habitat,” he said.

In an email sent last week, Mr. Whritenour requested the support of other Island towns for the inclusion of sand mining in the ocean plan, and reiterated the need for the Island to present a united front on the issue.

“Even to achieve Islandwide consen

sus alone this needs more discussion,” he said.

At their meeting this week, the Tisbury selectmen declined to write a letter in support of Oak Bluffs, citing the need for more information. “We just don’t know enough; there’s not enough research yet,” Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg told the Gazette later.

In Oak Bluffs on Tuesday, selectman Kathy Burton expressed enthusiasm for the prospect of beach nourishment. “I think it’s very exciting,” she said. “I think it is the way of the future.”

A forum on offshore sand mining is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission office on New York avenue in Oak Bluffs.