The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News


Residents of Tisbury spoke out about shaking houses, damaged grass, loud noises and heavy traffic at a public meeting intended to give neighbors at the Beach Road Weekend music festival a forum to air their concerns with the event.

Held August 26-28, the music festival, organized by event producer Adam Epstein, was awarded a three-year contract to use Veterans Memorial Park as the venue by the city’s selection committee in February.

The festival welcomed around 10,000 people over its three days, which came back strong in 2022 after the pandemic canceled the event in 2020 and led to reduced queues in 2021.

Thursday’s meeting took place at the Tisbury Senior Citizens Centre, where around 50 neighbors gathered to voice mostly grievances to the town’s selection board over the festival.

“This is really a meeting for you, the residents, the neighbors,” said Grande, who added that the city had received considerable correspondence regarding issues related to the event.

The neighbors struck a markedly different tone from a previous forum held to discuss the event, at which dozens of islanders showed up in support of the festival. For about an hour Thursday, another group of residents pointed to issues of noise, safety, environmental impact, traffic and damage to public property.

“The three-day festival is pretty much a nightmare,” said nearby resident Abby Burt, who pointed to the common theme of excessive noise over the weekend.

Jessica Tartell, general manager of Chicken Alley, said the show’s bass rattled the thrift store’s metal building so much that several paintings were destroyed. Additionally, she said, closing the building over the weekend caused Chicken Alley to lose about $20,000 in revenue. Proceeds from the store go to support community services at Martha’s Vineyard.

There have been frequent mentions of severe headaches and vibrating walls caused by loud noise, even from self-proclaimed music lovers. While some participants provided noise mitigation proposals, others felt that the solutions were out of reach.

“It had a terrible impact,” said Susan Jones of the festival. “It took away the joy of living in Vineyard Haven.”

Shirley Kennedy said she was closely monitoring traffic near her home on Skiff Lane during the festival and presented a series of printed photos she had taken to the crowd. Traffic was so chaotic, she says, that one evening at the festival, a policeman had to help her get her car into her garage. A separate photo Ms Kenneday posted of damaged tree roots in the park sparked a wave of worried murmurs among the crowd.

Pitch damage was also an issue for Tisbury resident Ben Robinson. On recent trips to the park, he said, he consistently found significant amounts of shards of glass on the grounds; he placed a shard he had discovered earlier that day on the table in front of the tray.

Due to the condition of the pitch, the youth soccer league was unable to train there this year, as it usually does, neighbors said.

At one point, island restaurateur Ben DeForest came out strongly in support of the event, through Mr Grande eventually asking him to hand over to concerned neighbors. While Mr DeForest admitted he had some involvement with the festival, he called the complaints “speculative” and “an issue that is not in my backyard”.

Other residents have challenged his supervision.

“When you put [a festival] in the densest part of town all year round, it affects everyone,” Kim Hilliard said. “In all of Vineyard Haven, there’s nowhere to go.”

Mr Epstein listened to residents’ concerns and eventually made his own remarks.

“It’s important to have meetings like this,” Mr. Epstein said. “We want the opportunity to keep improving.”

Prompt with a question from board member John Cahill, Mr Epstein said he would be open to renegotiating aspects of the gig contract.

The select committee ended the meeting saying they would continue the festival discussion at later dates.


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