Bonfires at Herring Creek, a strip of public beach along Lake Tashmoo, are marring the shoreline and causing headaches for the Tisbury fire chief.

Chief John Schilling approached the Tisbury selectmen on Tuesday night with concerns about bonfires that have been held nearly nightly this summer.

“Because of remoteness of Herring Creek, the frequency and the size of fires are now taking prominence over the use of the beach as a recreational place of swimming and bathing to the point where recently the lifeguards called us down there because the next morning the bonfire was still going,” the fire chief said. “It was such an intense bonfire she wasn’t able to put it out with a bucket and water from the beach.”

The department of public works came down with a backhoe to clean up the remains of the party, including trash and bottles that had been thrown into the fire.

Chief Schiling described black spots up and down the beach, stray nails from boards and hot coals buried a foot deep in the sand. The fires have little chance of spreading to the beach grass, he said, instead expressing concern for daytime beachgoers. The beach is located a long way down a dirt road. It is also a popular fishing spot at night. Recreational fires are allowed in Massachusetts.

“Just somehow we have to find a balance between allowing people to use it but use it safely and smartly and not have the nighttime revelers impact the daytime beachgoers,” Mr. Schilling said.

Selectman Tristan Israel said the town previously has tried to buy out the county which owns 13 per cent of the beach and make Herring Creek a town beach. But board chairman Melinda Loberg said in this instance, ownership is not the issue.

“If I was a taxpayer in Vineyard Haven and spent quite a bit of tax money getting the dredge material put on that public beach and then see destruction that happens when people burn stuff, metal, broken glass into what is really a fine beach, I’d be upset about that,” Mrs. Loberg said.

The selectmen asked the DPW advisory board, police and fire chiefs to work with the town administrator to draft recommendations for a beach management plan by November. Meanwhile, they asked the police department to continue nightly patrols on the weekends.

In other business, selectmen agreed to form a subcommittee that reports to the parking committee to explore a better plan for the town park and ride. Mr. Israel raised concerns about misuse of the property and missed opportunities to collect funds for the town.

With some misgivings, the selectmen also voted to renew the license for Adventure Rentals, a moped rental business owned by Jason and Erin Leone. Following a serious accident earlier this summer involving a rented moped and a dump truck, there has been renewed sentiment on the Island to phase out moped rentals. “I’m not a fan of mopeds,” Mr. Israel said; at the same time he acknowledged that the town has no legal authority to not renew the license as long as the rules are being followed.

“Short of legislation changing, which I certainly would support, it’s my own feeling if your operating within the parameters of what we have established and doing it responsibly we should issue the license,” Mr. Israel said.

The vote was 2-1 with Mrs. Loberg and Mr. Israel voted in favor of renewing the license, while Larry Gomez voted against.