Tisbury readies itself for liquor

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Town leaders and restaurant owners in Tisbury are gearing up for the sale of spirits. The board of selectmen will talk about regulations at a meeting next Tuesday. - File photo

Town leaders are working on regulations and setting up hearings before restuarants can begin serving hard liquor in Tisbury. Just one week after voters approved the ballot question allowing liquor in restaurants, a large crowd showed up at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting to hear about the newly passed legislation.

Voters approved the expansion of beer and wine licenses to include hard alcohol, and Tisbury could issue a total of 19 restaurant permits, although only a handful of restaurants now operate in the town. Permitted restaurants must have seating for no fewer than 30, and beverages must be consumed with meals, a requirement that would not change if the licenses included liquor sales, selectmen said.

Selectmen will discuss liquor regulations next Tuesday, and will allow for public input. To serve liquor, each restaurant has to submit an application to the town, and a public hearing must be held and advertised for two weeks prior to the hearing. When selectmen approve the application, it will be sent to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to change the category of the license to include spirits, a process estimated at one to two weeks.

“The only thing I see missing is the words spirit or alcohol,” Larry Gomez, now selectmen chairman, said of the current regulations during Tuesday’s meeting. Mr. Gomez owns the Greenwood House, an inn in Vineyard Haven, and as a business owner, he was eager to get the licensing in motion for restaurants.

J.B. Blau, owner of Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven, thanked the board for acting expeditiously, saying it was an “immense help” to restaurants. He has been an Island business owner for more than two decades. Along with Copper Wok, he owns Sharky’s Cantina in both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, and Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co. and the Loft in Oak Bluffs.

“We have to train an entire staff on new service and new trainings before July,” Mr. Blau said. “So whatever you guys can do, it’s really helpful to the logistics of all the restaurants in town, and it will avoid problems in July and August that we don’t want to see, that you don’t want to see.”

Parking woes

As the town continues to grapple with limited parking spaces, selectmen listened to recommendations from the parking committee, and approved a change in the Cape Light Compact, a program that aims to negotiate a competitive price for electricity for its members.

Selectmen heard from Lt. Eerik Meisner of the Tisbury Police Department, who is on the parking committee, about recommendations the committee made for the Park and Ride agreement with the Steamship Authority. The committee is looking to reduce the number of commercial vehicles in the High Point Lane parking lot, and designate a specific area where commercial vehicles over 20 feet can park. The committee will finalize the language of the agreement for the selectmen meeting next week.

Disgruntled boat owners voiced their complaints over parking at Owen Park, and asked for eight 24-hour spaces back after the parking committee made recent recommendations to eliminate 24-hour parking and change the spaces to four-hour time limits.

“Basically what that does is that eliminates parking for anybody who has a boat in the harbor,” Jim Lobdell, chairman of the harbor management committee and also a boat owner, told selectmen. There are 200 moorings in the harbor, and only eight parking spaces — the only public access to the waterfront for boat owners, he said.

Boat owners said they needed the spaces to unload all their gear, and they needed 24 hours because many of them take long or overnight excursions.

The fee for a parking spot is $10 for the season, and there has been discussion about increasing it to $50. Selectmen agreed to hold a hearing on the fee increase, and agreed to keep eight 24-hour spaces. They designated four spaces for town employees — two for the harbormaster, one for the shellfish constable, and one for the environmental police.

Ray Tattersall, director of the department of public works, said he disagreed with selectmen’s choice to keep the eight spaces. He said out of 200 mooring owners, only 18 people buy the permit. Mr. Tattersall asked them to consider the 4,000 people who live in town who don’t get special parking.

“You’re not looking out for the whole town,” Mr. Tattersall said. “You’re only looking out for people who can afford a boat.”

In other business, selectmen agreed on changes proposed by Cape Light Compact. Tisbury will transition from an intergovernmental agreement to a joint powers entity, and selectmen agreed on the change after Maggie Downey, Cape Light Compact administrator, presented the details of the transition, which will take place over the next few months, and provide $40,000 in annual savings of overhead costs. A joint powers entity, she explained, is a separate public entity that can receive grants, extend funds, hire employees, and execute contracts.

Cape Light Compact is the oldest municipal aggregator in the state, and the only one that pools customers from multiple municipalities into a single purchasing bloc. It includes all 21 towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the governments of Barnstable and Dukes counties.

Ms. Downey said that 17 towns have agreed on the change, and she anticipated the remaining towns would adopt the agreement.

Tisbury was the only town that didn’t have a representative on the Cape Light Compact board, and selectmen agreed for Jay Grande, the town administrator, to serve as the representative.