Commercial kiteboarding will remain in Cape Pogue bay — for now — but not before Edgartown selectmen heard a litany of concerns from other town officials about the sensitive wildlife refuge being overrun with recreational boaters this summer.

“Saturday we had more boats than I’ve seen in my whole career,” harbor master Charlie Blair told selectmen at their meeting Monday. “We had a boat from Oak Bluffs dumping people on the beach . . . we had 100 boats there Saturday.”

The issue of commercial kiteboarding at Cape Pogue surfaced before the selectmen last week, after the board received a recommendation from the town’s marine advisory committee not to renew any commercial licenses, angering kiteboarders who felt that they were being singled out despite being only part of a broader use issue in the area.

Selectmen had scheduled a joint meeting with the marine advisory committee Monday to hear their concerns. Committee chairman Bruce McIntosh said the problem dated back many years, with recreational uses at Cape Pogue like boating, charter fishing and kiteboarding threatening the ecology of the pristine bay with its rich bay scallop populations and an eelgrass restoration project.

Remote tip of Cape Pogue elbow is a hot spot this summer for boaters and picknickers, raising concerns about impacts on nesting shorebirds and pristine shellfish beds in the bay. — Jeanna Shepard

Mr. McIntosh said the committee had laid out a comprehensive plan for limiting commercial uses in Cape Pogue, including banning anchoring, earlier in the winter, but that the plans were waylaid by the pandemic. Despite that, he said the committee had settled on recommending to the board that they shouldn’t renew any commercial kiteboarding permits for this summer.

Two commercial kiteboarding instructors operate out of Cape Pogue: Skyhigh kiteboarding and Next Level kiteboarding.

“Cape Pogue, it’s one of the natural wonders of the world. Its primary purpose is for shellfishing. And it’s our duty to protect that,” Mr. McIntosh said. “While I acknowledge that this is largely threatened by overuse from boating — which should be addressed separately — I have broader concerns that if we let certain groups use the area for commercial, it’s a slippery slope you could say.”

Committee member Martin (Skip) Tomassian said there had been problems with kiteboarders on the water in the area, noting videos he had seen of boarders trying to jump private docks, along with speed issues and safety concerns expressed by the harbor master, shellfish constable and Trustees of Reservations about nesting shorebirds.

“We need to take a real look at the recreational uses Cape Pogue is put to,” Mr. Tomassian said.

While all agreed that Cape Pogue was experiencing significant overuse, kiteboarders said it wouldn’t be fair to single them out by not renewing their licenses this year. Mark Begle, who operates Skyhigh Kiteboarding, said commercial lessons are in fact the safest form of kiteboarding.

“If they want to kill all commercial activity out there, and I’m in that bucket, then so be it,” Mr. Begle said. “But to be picked on individually doesn’t seem very fair at this moment.”

After hearing from numerous supporters of Mr. Begle, as well as other members of the marine advisory concerned about the area, selectmen decided to renew the commercial license for this summer but form a committee in the fall to examine recreational uses at Cape Pogue.

Selectmen Michael Donaroma acted as the dealmaker.

“In light of everything that we have just heard, it sounds like there are safety issues. Regulations need to be put in place. Further review needs to be done,” Mr. Donaroma said. “The problems of overcrowding at times, too many boats at times, too many people at times. I guess the time has really come when we really do need to start to address this,” he added. “But I, for one, don’t want to look like we’re zeroing in on one business out there, because if we deny this, then we certainly will be zeroing in on one business out there. I am not ready to do that.”

The board did not identify the committee members, but indicated that it would include Chris Kennedy from the Trustees, as well as town officials and residents of the area.

In other business Monday, selectmen heard from Marc Glassman, the owner of Whatever Silver on Main street. Mr. Glassman said outdoor seating at The Wharf restaurant had cut into foot traffic for his retail business because tables blocked the sidewalk. He requested selectmen remove two of the tables to create a walking path between the outdoor seating area and the restaurant.

“Sundays, when you are closed, we do 30 per cent better,” Mr. Glassman said. “It impacts us terribly.”

But Geoghan Coogan, an attorney and member of the family that owns The Wharf, expressed safety concerns about servers having to navigate pedestrian traffic, and said the restaurant was struggling to survive financially and couldn’t afford to lose more outdoor tables.

“We’re just trying to make it through the next six weeks,” Mr. Coogan said. “To open that up, is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Again, Mr. Donaroma looked to resolve the dispute, suggesting that the town highway superintendent create signs and markings on the sidewalk around the outdoor dining area encouraging pedestrians to stay on the eastern side of Main street despite the obstruction.

“This is a tough one,” Mr. Donaroma said.

Town administrator James Hagerty was asked to work with the highway superintendent and Mr. Donaroma to resolve the issue.