Summer turns up the heat for Tisbury selectmen and parking plans


In a fast-paced meeting Tuesday night, the Tisbury selectmen said they are still working out the details to create a new parking lot on the site of the former fire station on Beach Street. The same is true of their plans to install a parking meter or ticket system at the Park and Ride lot off State Road.

The walls and roof of the vacant fire station were demolished and removed about two weeks ago. The slab and pavement will be removed next Monday and Tuesday, Department of Public Works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana said.

The selectmen agreed several months ago to create a temporary parking lot on the site to be available at the beginning of August, possibly. “We have to decide what we’re going to do this summer,” selectman Tristan Israel reminded selectmen Jeff Kristal, the board’s chairman, and Jon Snyder.

Mr. Kristal said town administrator John “Jay” Grande has come up with a proposal for pricing for the parking spaces. He suggested the selectmen review that at their next meeting in order to begin soliciting leases for the spaces. Mr. Kristal said the selectmen should also plan to have a larger discussion with the Planning Board about the lot’s future use.

“Jay worked on some numbers from people around Vineyard Haven who rent parking spaces and compared the costs by calculating how far the locations are from the Steamship Authority,” Mr. Kristal told The Times in a phone conversation yesterday. “He will work out the cost based on a monthly lease, which is what I imagine we will be leaning towards. Otherwise, we would have too many cars going in and out to see if there are any spaces, in an area that already has problems with traffic.”

Mr. Kristal said the selectmen would likely set limits on vehicle size and type, and possibly ban lease of the spaces to commercial vehicles. “There are businesses in Vineyard Haven that need parking spaces,” he added.

Park and pay?

The selectmen voted unanimously on May 21 to move forward with plans to install a parking meter system at the Park and Ride lot. At Tuesday night’s meeting, Mr. Grande said he has been moving forward with a consultant on how to implement a system.

Mr. Grande said there are also other issues to consider, in that the Park and Ride lot will require some improvements, especially in signage.

Although the town currently allows up to seven days of free parking at the lot, Mr. Grande said he visited the lot last week and could not determine from the signs where the free parking area is located.

The selectmen said they still intend to work out the details of a parking meter system as soon as possible. They also plan to discuss its implementation with the Steamship Authority (SSA) and Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) beforehand.

The VTA provides shuttle service between the Park and Ride parking lot and the SSA’s Vineyard Haven terminal through an agreement with Tisbury and the SSA. The VTA shuttle bus leaves the parking lot 15 minutes before each vessel’s scheduled departure and meets each vessel’s scheduled arrival.

Trucks stuck and dredge delay

In response to three traffic incidents this week involving semi tractor-trailer trucks on Main Street, the selectmen agreed to review rules for truck traffic in downtown Vineyard Haven and to install better signage, with fines posted. Mr. Kristal suggested that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission conduct a traffic study and come up with a plan for truck traffic, and that Mr. Grande, who is an experienced planner, take a look at it along with Police Chief Dan Hanavan.

In other business, the selectmen approved a contract with Barnstable County Dredge, pending approval by town counsel, to begin dredging in Vineyard Haven harbor after September 15. The project was supposed to start in June but had to be delayed because the dredge broke, Mr. Grande said.

No fiber-optics

In one of the meeting’s more expansive discussions, the selectmen expressed their displeasure that a deal struck between Comcast and NSTAR regarding the use of a new undersea cable from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard has no provision for fiber-optic capability.

Department of Public Works director Fred LaPiana said the cable would consist of 96 fibers used by Comcast and 24 by NSTAR. Open Cape requested use of two fibers, in association with bringing FirstNet, a nationwide public safety broadband network, to the Island. However, in a meeting with Congressman Bill Keating, Mr. LaPiana said Comcast and NSTAR representatives labeled Open Cape’s request as “unfair competition.”

“We should report back to the congressman this is not an answer, that public safety is important to us,” Mr. LaPiana said. The selectmen agreed to contact U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and State Senator Dan Wolf about it.

The selectmen went into executive session at 6:23 pm to discuss a contract with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative regarding a second solar array project for the town to be built on the town’s old septage lagoons off Holmes Hole Road. During the public portion of the meeting, Mr. Grande said that a consultant hired by the town to review the pros and cons of the project concluded it is a win for the town in terms of cost benefits. The selectmen approved the contract after they reconvened in open session.