Eastville Point Beach, for those who do not know, is located right off the Lagoon Pond drawbridge on the Oak Bluffs side. This five-plus-acre waterfront on two sides property was the site of the Mary Guerin Inn back in the 1960s. It extends along the jetty the that divides Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs and juts into the harbor, a prime location. It is an extremely valuable piece of beach real estate. This spring it resembled an abandoned industrial park. The part owned by the county was being used as an industrial storage site by the Lynch highway contractors, and the small parking lot owned by the town of Oak Bluffs was a pothole center. Abandoned and forgotten is a description that suits it well over the last 20 years.

Although the county has recently apologized for letting the highway contractor use the site, it should never have happened on restricted conservation land.

This was not what my three sisters and I had in mind when we decided to dedicate it as public beach for the people of the Vineyard in memory of our mother and father, Leo J. Convery and Irene Prada Convery. We specifically spelled out in the deed that the land was for conservation — for people, not birds. This was in December 1977. The land bank had not yet come into being, and we were left trying to find an organization to accept it and administer it. The town was not happy with the gift, and it shows. They gave it to a conservation group who made most of it into a bird sanctuary, in direct opposition to our wishes. Access by people is secondary, and recreation is not encouraged by the owner-managers.

Among other things, the deed specifically states:

• “The property shall be used strictly for conservation for all recreational purposes, including without limiting for the generality of the foregoing swimming, sunbathing, fishing and boating.”

• “The use of the property shall be permitted to all persons regardless of where they are residents.”

• “No charge shall be made to anyone for the use of the property unless improvement are made thereon and then only to cover the cost of making and maintaining such improvements.”

My family members and I recently attended the memorial service for Paul Watts held at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven. Looking across the harbor to Eastville Point brought home the big difference. Owen Park, with its beautiful landscaping, welcoming layout and easy utility, is designed to be used by Islanders. Eastville Beach by contrast, has been neglected.

I want to see if this can be corrected. Perhaps it is time to change the current management and see if we can get the land bank to take it over. This potentially magnificent site needs to be properly managed. It should be open in its entirety as set forth under the intentions of the donors. And yes, conservation can be for people.

I encourage anyone who is interested to write to the town and county and urge them to clean up Eastville Point Beach. Tell them land bank ownership is the way to go. The land bank owns the small beach right across the street and it is in great shape. Let’s make the beach viable and useable for the people of the Vineyard, as intended.

Leo Convery