Tisbury selectmen discuss public events on MV Museum property

Selectmen are concerned about the frequency of events, and how they might affect the neighborhood.

The Martha's Vineyard Museum property offers a wonderful view of Lagoon Pond. — Michael Cummo

Tisbury selectmen met to discuss a mix of agenda items on Tuesday night. Much of their time was spent discussing the proposed use of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum (MVM) property during the summer months for a variety of activities.

The MVM purchased the old Marine Hospital property in 2011, and plans to have the new museum open for business in 2018. The property has a wide lawn, and overlooks Lagoon Pond. MVM Executive Director David Nathans went before selectmen Tuesday to seek permission to erect a large tent for the museum’s annual fundraiser on Saturday, June 27, which is expected to attract 400 supporters.

Discussion arose after Mr. Nathans proposed using the property for other events. He said he has been approached by a number of people expressing interest in using the property for events such as a jazz music festival and weddings. He said the events would follow the same rules and regulations warranted for the MVM fundraiser, as stipulated by a lease agreement.

Town Administrator Jay Grande said that he has been advised by the town attorney that under the Dover Amendment, which exempts nonprofit organizations from certain zoning restrictions, the anticipated activity level of these events would not jeopardize the museum’s nonprofit status. The selectmen’s concern was that the property is a residential zone, and weekly events may be disruptive to that community.

Mr. Nathans said he has modeled his plans for the property after activities held on the properties of the Preservation Trust in Edgartown and the Agricultural Society in West Tisbury. The proposal was for 12 possible events from June to September, six of which would potentially be nonprofit and six potentially for-profit. He was willing to accept a more limited number, given that the organization is currently not allowed to accept any event proposals at all.

“I have some serious concerns about all this,” Chairman Tristan Israel said. “I have concerns of weekend after weekend events going on in the evening — weddings in particular, bands, things like that — the sounds could potentially be disruptive to the neighborhood.”

He was particularly concerned about events going beyond 8 pm.

“This is going to be a beautiful and wonderful asset for the town,” Selectman Melinda Loberg said. “It’s in a stunning location, and I can see why a lot of people would like to hold their event there.”

Ms. Loberg was also concerned about the impact on the neighborhood. She said with the presence of the lagoon, noise could potentially carry a long distance. She proposed starting cautiously, in order to not “alienate the neighborhood right off the bat” and give people from the community the opportunity to weigh in with their opinion.

Mr. Nathans said he was willing to restrict the events to a certain time, such as having all weddings end by 8 pm. “Right now, we can’t respond in any positive way to any requests,” he said. “We have no ability to do that. So what happens is they go elsewhere. The revenue that can be made from that could help us.”

Tisbury Building and Zoning Inspector Ken Barwick said that as of 2013, town ordinance greatly limits the distance at which sound can be audible. He also brought up concerns regarding police details and parking with larger events.

The board agreed to look at parameters for the events within the next few weeks, and come up with an agreement for rules and restrictions regarding time limits and amplified music during such events.

“I know your museum event is going to attract a real rowdy crowd,” Mr. Israel joked.

Lid on Bruno’s

In other business, the board voted to close the public hearing on Bruno’s rate increase for curbside trash and recycling services, which has been an ongoing discussion since May 19. Mr. Grande said there are different ways to approach the increase from Bruno’s perspective, and they needed more time to explore those options. Mr. Grande also wanted to discuss the options with the Department of Public Works, specifically in regard to the local drop-off (LDO) and transfer station. Bruno’s has agreed to leave the sticker price as is for the time being. A hearing will likely be scheduled for September.

The board voted to approve Energy Manager Gary Robinson’s application for a Municipal Energy Technical Assistance Grant of $12,500 for solar panels to be installed on the roof of town emergency services facilities. Selectmen approved a proposal by Jason Snow of J2 Sports for the Vineyard Triathlon Road Race on Sunday, Sept. 13. They approved a memorandum of understanding regarding the purchase of and services agreement for the Vineyard Nursing Association building that is to be the new home of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living.

The board appointed Lilian Robinson to fill a vacant position on the conservation commission. Selectmen appointed Tomar Waldman to the Board of Public Works commission.

The appointments and reappointments of the animal control officer, shellfish constable, Building/Zoning Inspector, fence viewer and board of registrars were put on hold until next week.

In new business, Chairman Israel signed off on an agreement allowing Eversource to move ahead with electrical work to be done at Owen Park. High-voltage electrical wiring will be rerouted from above the gazebo to underground.

The meeting concluded with the board voting to go into executive session to “discuss strategy with respect to real estate.”