Taxi meters are still a work in progress

With no consensus by companies involved, selectmen appoint a liaison to work out details.

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Michael Mszanski, vice president of Martha's Vineyard Taxi, is still hopeful he can win support for a metered-system to charge cab fare.

Adam Darack, Edgartown’s IT director, has been asked to work out a resolution between the town’s three licensed taxi companies.

At a meeting Monday afternoon, Mike Mszanski , vice president of MV Taxi, told the board the three companies were unable to come to a resolution on a proposed metering plan after Edgartown selectmen asked Mszanski to seek “buy-in” from the other companies.

The board in turn voted 3-0 to ask Darack to act as a liaison between the companies and the police department, and authorized Darack to consult with town counsel on a plan that would work for all three.

“Truth is, we still have not arrived at a comprehensive proposal that suits the needs of all companies,” Mszanski said. He said it would be unlikely to come up with one that all three companies could agree on.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck made the suggestion that Darack act as liaison, perhaps coming up with a dual system that all three companies can agree on.

“I’m hoping that maybe working with Adam, you can come up with a system, maybe a dual system, where we can have meters in the small cabs, you can have traditional rate charts for the vans, and move forward in kind of a way like that that might satisfy everybody,” Smadbeck said.

Police Chief Bruce McNamee said despite sitting down, they could not resolve the differences. “We have every confidence in Adam,” McNamee said.

Darack said, realistically there won’t be any rate changes in Edgartown this summer.

In an interview after the hearing, Mszanski said he’s looking forward to seeing a year’s worth of work and sixth months of testing get a review by Darack. “We are incredibly encouraged by the opportunity and offer by selectmen to work with Adam Darack as a liaison,” he said. “We think he is a terrific fellow and a smart gentleman, and we think it’s going to be a great opportunity to move forward with some great change for the consumer, as well as our own business going forward.”

It will create a more trustful relationship with customers, Mszanski said of the metered system.

“It ameliorates one problem, which is that the existing flat structure … is confusing,” he said, pointing to a confusing chart. “It’s not the most transparent system.”

Customers would be charged fair prices based on their actual travel experience, he said.

MV Taxi is also going before Tisbury selectmen and West Tisbury selectmen to talk about the proposal.

Later in the Edgartown meeting, the board unanimously approved annual licenses for MV Taxi, Adam Cab, and Stagecoach.

A building project at the Edgartown Yacht Club is likely to cause some traffic issues during the shoulder season.

Bill Roman, general manager of Edgartown Yacht Club, said the project has to start on Sept. 10 in order to meet the demolition and construction schedule. The project includes rebuilding of the wharf, raising the 1927 clubhouse onto new pilings, and replacing some of the structures with newer buildings of a similar design, with the exception of the snack bar, which is fairly new, he said. Work should be done by Memorial Day weekend 2019. “That’s the plan,” Roman said.

Roman said a barge with trash bins will haul the construction debris from the Island.

Still, trucks will have to stage near the site, taking valuable spaces during the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, which Roman is also affiliated with in a leadership capacity. A popular bike path will also have to be removed, he said.

“I’m 110 percent cognizant of the challenge of parking and congestion on the waterfront there,” he said. He is looking out for the interests of the Derby and the yacht club, he said.

Town administrator Pam Dolby said it’s doubtful that the trucks will be contained to the parking areas that Roman noted in a Google Maps printout he handed to selectmen. “I’m just saying let’s be realistic about it,” she said.

Complicating matters is the annual Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, she said.

Dolby suggested temporarily moving spaces that are set aside for taxis. “Let everyone know about it way ahead of time,” she said.

Selectman Margaret Serpa urged Roman to work with police and the highway department. “It looks like you’re trying to have the least impact possible,” she said.

In other business, James Joyce told selectmen that two benches are missing from outside his business at 37 Main St. in Edgartown.

There were four park benches, which Joyce said are always used, and now there are two.

The two benches that are gone both had plaques on them, one for Bob Carroll, the late selectman, and the other for Henry Beetle Hough, the late publisher and owner of the Vineyard Gazette.

After the meeting, Chris Scott said the benches were dedicated to the two men because of their roles in the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. Because Carroll and Hough didn’t like each other much, they were separated by the doorway of 37 Main St., he said.

Dolby suggested the benches could have been removed for maintenance, but would check.

“If we could get Bob back …” Joyce said.

Selectmen will have to wait at least another week to consider a new request for proposals for the Yellow House. The town’s attorney is waiting for an answer from the state on how much potential bidders will have to provide in security in a bond, Scott said afterward.

In March, selectmen voted to reissue bids after issues arose during negotiations with the developer.

The board also responded to a letter from a resident of Meeting House Way, which is being repaved. The resident was concerned that a curve on the road would be dangerous.

But chairman Michael Donaroma said the road has been surveyed, and there is little wiggle room for the town to alter the road.