New rules for Lake Street pier
The town pier and launch ramp tucked away at the end of Lake Street in Tisbury provides the public with access to Tashmoo Pond and the North Shore. Recreational and commercial fishermen, mooring owners, kayakers and visiting boaters are among those who use the facility.
As the area has seen an increase in use there has been an increase in complaints and conflicts among user groups. However a lack of regulations has limited the ability of harbor personnel to enforce considerate behavior.
In anticipation of the busy summer season, Tisbury selectmen will hold a public hearing to discuss a proposed set of rules designed to alleviate problems and provide harbor personnel with enforcement tools.
The hearing begins at 6 pm Tuesday in the Katharine Cornell Theatre, as part of the regular selectmen's meeting.
Although Martha's Vineyard is surrounded by water, finding public boat access can be problematic. The Lake Street boat ramp is located at the end of a steep hill and provides convenient access from the sheltered waters of Tashmoo Pond to Vineyard Sound.
The launch ramp and pier were rebuilt several years ago. Although the parking lot is small and provides a test of the trailering skills of boaters trying to turn around or back down the hill, parking is allowed along the side of the road.
For years the Lake Street facility remained relatively uncrowded, due to its out-of-the way location. That is no longer the case.
Photo by Steve Myrick
The proposed regulations address dock usage, parking, dinghy use and storage, and penalties. A frequent complaint, according to harbor officials, was the tendency of some people to keep their boats tied up at the pier for long periods of time.
The proposed regulations, at the discretion of the harbormaster, would limit use of the west face of the dock to 15 minutes for loading and unloading. No dockage will be allowed on the north side by the boat ramp.
Licensed fishing boats will be able to dock up to two hours along the bulkhead to allow for the active loading and unloading of gear, or to take a catch to the market.
No overnight dockage, fueling, barbecues, or portable generators would be allowed.
The abuse of dedicated space for temporary loading and unloading, limited to 20 minutes, and space provided for trailering boaters to turn around is also addressed. Police will now enforce parking violations
Penalties in the proposed regulations range from $25 to $200 and include the loss of mooring privileges for repeat offenders.
Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur said the town did not have specific regulations for Lake Street, and that made it difficult to enforce how the pier was used as conflicts increased in what is a very finite space.
Mr. Wilbur said people need to try and get along, but that does not always occur. "This is how regulations are born," said Mr. Wilbur, "when they can't."
Mr. Wilbur said the location of the pier and ramp and the lack of fulltime supervision makes it prone to misbehavior and occasional acts of vandalism. He thinks that a security camera would help, but cameras are expensive. He has applied for a grant to help pay for the costs
Melinda Loberg, chairman of the Tashmoo Management Committee, said the regulations are meant to address the conflicts that tend to arise when many different user groups want to take advantage of a small waterside facility. She said the landing pier, ramp and parking area are used by many different constituencies including recreational and commercial boaters, mooring holders, kayakers, and shell fishermen.
One point of contention has been boaters who monopolize available dock space or remain tied up for lengthy periods, even days at a time. Ms. Loberg said time limits were added so that everybody has access to the dock when they need it.
She said the regulations carry no weight without enforcement. The town budget includes money that will provide for an assistant harbormaster assigned to Tashmoo. The committee has asked Mr. Wilbur to create a work schedule that will provide oversight during the hours of most use.
One issue that has no easy solution is the abuse of trash collection services. Ms. Loberg said some people take advantage of the receptacles to dispose of household trash.
Ms. Loberg said the management committee is made up good people who are committed to preserving the health and beauty of Tashmoo so that residents and visitors may continue to enjoy the pond.
Tisbury Waterways, a nonprofit organization that works with the committee to protect the pond, is also creating a brochure that will be handed to boaters that explains the regulations designed to protect the pond.
People who do break the rules or abuse the facility will do so under the watchful eyes of all the people that are working to protect it, said Ms. Loberg.