There are 11 homes in the Squibnocket Farm section of Chilmark that suffer restricted access during storms and the real possibility of a complete washout after a large storm. For this reason, the area was developed with a restriction written into their deeds that the town of Chilmark would not guarantee access. This group of homeowners is now proposing building a self-financed concrete and steel raised causeway to secure access at the intersection of Squibnocket Road and their private mile-long dirt access road that runs parallel to the beach at an elevation of one to three feet above sea level. The selectmen of the town have endorsed this solution, citing safety concerns combined with the enthusiastic announcement that the town beach will be enlarged by land that these homeowners are purchasing from the Vineyard Open Land Foundation and leasing to the town. This project is scheduled to begin this fall.

There are several troubling concerns about this development:

• Up and down the East Coast, rigid manmade structures built along the shoreline are failing, especially in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. The deteriorating parking lot revetment at Squibnocket Beach is ample evidence that a rigid manmade structure does not work in this environment.

• Placing a rigid structure at the vulnerable intersection of a beach and a pond virtually guarantees a breach and a failure.

• Building a structure 13 feet above sea level that will connect to a mile long roadway located at a considerably lower elevation simply doesn’t make any sense.

• The natural beauty of the Squibnocket environment — a beach enjoyed by town residents during the summer, surfers, kite sailors and fishermen in the mornings and evenings and everyone else in the off-season — should not be marred by a concrete and steel elevated access road. The use of coir logs in the current restoration of the Sengekontacket Pond shoreline in collaboration with the EPA, Felix Neck and the University of Rhode Island is the sort of inspired solution that everyone should study carefully.

• Finally, that a tax-exempt conservation group is selling land — donated with the expectation that it would held in perpetuity — to cover its own cash/flow issues should concern everyone.

Wendy Jeffers