West Tisbury plans more public loo access
Over the past four weeks, the availability of public rest rooms in the center of West Tisbury has been a consistent theme of discussion at meetings of the selectmen.
The town center includes the West Tisbury Town Hall, West Tisbury Library, Howes House, Alley's General Store, Back Alley's, the Grange Hall, the Field Gallery, Up-Island Auto, and a busy bus stop. It all makes for a steady flow of people with bathroom needs.
West Tisbury is the only Island town without dedicated public toilet facilities. While the topic has been discussed from time to time in the past, the matter came into sharp focus after librarian Beth Kramer told selectmen last month that the library restrooms are bearing the brunt of visitor traffic and the increased use has added additional custodial service expense.
Ms. Kramer made the remarks in support of the town's ongoing negotiations to acquire a one-acre site for sale adjacent to library property. Informal discussions at board meetings about the acquisition have centered on using the land for a visitor center that would include space for VTA and tour bus parking and for public restrooms.
buses, whose riders often need to go.
Photo by Susan Safford
Informal discussions between the town and the Welles family, which owns the parcel formerly owned by the Waldron family, have not resulted in agreement on a price.
Last week selectmen and town hall renovation committee chairman Bea Phear moved to make town hall public restrooms more available to the public after renovation is completed next fall.
The board asked Ms. Phear to proceed with her idea to install timed locks that will allow the public access to two restrooms planned for the lobby of the refurbished town hall, while denying access to the rest of the building. The use of locks and timers would allow access beyond normal hours of operation at the building.
While visitors use the library facilities largely because they are closest to bus stops and most visible to visitors, the town has several other restrooms, including three in the town center area, not including rest rooms at private businesses.
The law provides the public with certain rights of access to local, state, and federal buildings, including restrooms.
Jeffrey S. (Skipper) Manter, chairman of the West Tisbury selectmen told The Martha's Vineyard Times. "I've never heard of anyone being turned away from a town building restroom. Town hall used to have a capacity issue, so we were careful about use, but alternatives were suggested. We know we have an issue here. It's been discussed for years. Now we're doing something about it."
Restrooms ought to be available to the public without affecting public work in a building, said Mr. Manter. "We're trying to facilitate availability of restrooms while town business is ongoing, without undue inconvenience to staff or to other members of the public," he said.
Joyce Bowker is director of the Howes House, a town-owned building across from Alley's that is a center for activities for the elderly and is used for government meetings. She put the issue in human terms. "If someone comes in here and needs a bathroom, they can use it. When you need a bathroom, you need it."