Tisbury selectmen approve three-day anchoring restriction in town waters

Newly elected member of the Tisbury board of selectmen Melinda Loberg (right) joined Tristan Israel (left) and Jon Snyder Tuesday. — Photo by Janet Hefler

Tisbury selectmen Jon Snyder and Tristan Israel welcomed newly elected selectman Melinda Loberg to her first meeting Tuesday night.

“I also want to mention this is the first woman selectman we’ve had in a long time, so we need more women to get involved,” Mr. Israel said.

In keeping with the board’s tradition of reorganizing after town elections, the selectmen voted to elect Mr. Snyder, now serving the last year of his three-year term, as chairman, and Ms. Loberg as clerk.

An amendment to the town’s waterways regulations to restrict anchoring to three days in all town waters was among the many agenda items the selectmen tackled over the three-hour meeting. The Harbor Management Committee (HMC) recommended that the selectmen extend a three-day anchoring regulation in effect in Lagoon Pond to Lake Tashmoo and require boats to be pumped out within the first two days of arrival, and after that, on a schedule depending on the number of people on board and the size of the holding tank.

HMC committee member Michael Jampel said the HMC also recommended that the harbor department record information for each boat, to gather statistics to help the town assess the impacts of boat traffic on the ponds and to establish pumpout requirements.

Mr. Israel said he was concerned about the cost and manpower necessary to collect the data and whether an anchoring fee should be imposed to cover it. Harbor master Jay Wilbur said the harbor department employees that operate the pump-out boats could handle the data collection during their down time, without added cost.

Several people in the audience argued against an anchoring fee. “Town-wise, I think we’re nuts if we try to get an anchoring fee,” HMC member Jerry Goodale said. “I think it will drive boaters away.”

Mr. Wilbur said that although not many harbors charge an anchoring fee, some do. He suggested a town-wide $25 annual fee, to include the outer harbor, would be reasonable, help protect the environment, and create a new revenue source.

After closing the public hearing and some further discussion, the selectmen voted to apply the same three-day anchoring limit to all Tisbury waters; require boats to be pumped out within two days of arrival, and after that a schedule determined by the number of boaters and size of the holding tank; and ask the harbor department to collect information about all boats that anchor, effective June 1. They agreed not to impose a fee.

Dukes County Manager Martina Thornton has been making the rounds of selectmen’s meetings to request support of a petition to the state legislature to allow the county to oversee the purchase the former Vineyard Nursing Association’s building, now on the market for $1.7 million. Tuesday night, with few people left in the audience, she made her pitch to Tisbury selectmen. No questions were asked and there was little discussion. Ms. Thornton said the cost would be shared by the Island towns and she estimated Tisbury’s share would be about $20,000 to $30,000 annually.

The building would be used to house the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, which provides a variety of services, programs and activities for Islanders 55 and over through partnerships with related organizations. Since the building is much bigger than the MVCL’s current needs, Ms. Thornton said the county would lease extra space to help defray the costs.

Under departmental reports, Fire Chief John Schilling said that the only person to apply as a paramedic was not qualified. He said with the busy summer season almost here, the department plans to fill the vacant shifts with its existing employee roster.

“We recommend not posting the job until something in the package is different to attract someone to apply,” Chief Schilling said. One of the impediments is that unlike other towns, Tisbury’s ambulance department is unionized, he added, which means that someone with years of experience has to start at step one.

In follow-up to a vote by the selectmen two weeks ago, Mr. Wilbur raised objections with their decision to purchase a pickup truck, rather than the Jeep he requested, as a replacement vehicle for the Chevy Blazer he now drives. Mr. Wilbur argued that a pickup truck gets low gas mileage, he hauls people more than equipment, and he needs a vehicle that can go fast in responding to emergencies.

Mr. Israel said the selectmen’s decision was based on cost considerations and a pickup truck’s versatility for use by other departments.

“I think the Jeep is a recreational vehicle,” Mr. Israel said, and he added, “A pickup can get to a place as fast as a Jeep can.”

Ms. Loberg said said she thought the selectmen were overreaching their responsibility and it wasn’t their job to choose vehicles for town departments.

Noting that no one made a motion to change the selectmen’s original decision, Mr. Snyder ended the discussion.

In other business, the selectmen voted to appoint Caroline Little to the Conservation Commission, Douglas Reece to the wastewater planning committee, Katherine Colon as the town’s representative to the County Health Care Access Oversight Board, and police department crossing guards, special officers, and traffic officers.

Mr. Snyder began the meeting with a moment of silence in memory of Pat Gregory, who was murdered last weekend. “We will miss him,” he said afterwards.