Traffic, tickets, turmoil in Tisbury
If you have ever had a woman wearing a tan shirt uniform, whistle at the ready, direct you past a car waiting to park on Main Street in Vineyard Haven in order to get traffic flowing then you have probably met “Elly.”
Eloise Boales, known by the people who greet her throughout the day as “Elly,” is a full-time, year-round traffic officer with the Tisbury Police Department.
From 7:30 am to 3:30 pm her job takes her from the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority terminal to the notorious intersection known as Five Corners, along busy Main Street and all of the sections of town where parking scofflaws roam.
When a ferry arrives Ms. Boales teams up with her fellow traffic officer Jay Clark, whom she refers to as her “partner-in-crime,” to help vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians exit the terminal property swiftly and safely.
Often, they divide up the tasks. Ms. Boales takes command at the Steamship Authority exit, Mr. Clark at Five Corners.
In-between ferry arrivals, Ms. Boales attempts to keep traffic flowing. It is not always easy.
At various times through the day she sprang into action on busy Main Street or in the Stop & Shop supermarket parking lot. At one point in the day a driver was attempting to back out of a spot on Main Street. With a confident gesture Ms. Boales halted traffic to allow the motorist to exit the space.
Writing tickets and ordering already exasperated drivers to keep moving is no way to win friends. Ms. Boales says, “You can’t always please everybody.”
That was the case early in the afternoon when Ms. Boales was confronted by a Vineyard Haven storeowner very angry over a $15 parking ticket he received outside his store for exceeding the two-hour limit.
As Ms. Boales was directing traffic at the SSA terminal, a man parked his Jeep in the road, ran up and began swearing at her. Ms. Boales responded to him as she continued to direct traffic. As the man became more heated she used her radio to call for police assistance. A Tisbury police sergeant and a State Police officer responded as the irate motorist departed. The sergeant followed him up the road.
Photos by Alex Bell
Ms. Boales does her best to keep good relations. She says she does not write tickets for the sake of writing tickets, but rather prefers to tell a driver that he or she is parked illegally and asks the driver to move his car before she writes a ticket, if the opportunity presents itself.
On Tuesday her day included taking the time to give directions to a lost tourist, chatting with Islanders, and helping a child who had fallen on the sidewalk. She thinks that traffic officers should make themselves available to the community so that other police officers can concentrate on their police work.
Ms. Boales, 53, is married and lives in Aquinnah. She was born on the Vineyard and is a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head. She began her career in law enforcement in 1974 as an Oak Bluffs traffic officer.
She moved to Philadelphia where she worked as an undercover plain-clothes police officer for 13 years. After a short stint as a nurse’s aid at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, she returned to police work but said she was uncomfortable carrying a firearm. Now she carries a ticket book and whistle.
on Water Street exiting the Steamship terminal.