Tisbury planners detail downtown, waterfront master plan
The Tisbury Planning Board presented its draft master plan for downtown Vineyard Haven and its waterfront to the community this week, seeking input from residents about what they think would be the best use of their town's assets.
The thorough 29-page document contains recommendations for defining the town's center, opening up access to the harbor, relieving traffic congestion, improving the economy, and restoring a more comfortable "village atmosphere" to the growing downtown area.
Last night, members of the planning board were expected to present the draft master plan in a public hearing at the Tisbury senior center.
"This is a very complex plan," said Tony Peak, planning board chairman. "We have talked to people in the business community and met with property owners from the area, and this is an effort to make it available to the public, since it is in a fairly polished but draft version, and see what they have to say. Depending on what comes up at the hearing, there could be some major revisions."
In keeping with recent discussions of Tisbury's traffic review committee, a look at the master plan shows that the planning board also favors changing the direction of Union Street toward Main Street to accommodate downtown shoppers, create alternative bus routes, and reduce congestion at Five Corners.
To further lessen traffic at Five Corners, the planning board proposes upgrading Norton Lane, which runs from Main Street down past Stop and Shop, and constructing a "small service driveway" which would run along the northern edge of Veteran's Park between Causeway Road and Lagoon Pond Road. This would create another access to the post office, as well as businesses along the south side of Beach Street.
The plan also calls for rerouting the park and ride shuttle to serve Main Street and Tisbury neighborhoods. The route would run from the park and ride lot to the ferry using Spring Street and Church Street, stopping at the senior center, the Tisbury School, the Hebrew Center, and the Catholic Church. Passengers might be able to utilize these institutions' parking lots, especially in the summer, which could open up about another 160 parking spaces.
As the master plan explains, the town of Tisbury includes a tremendous amount of waterfront, but almost all of it is restricted in some way. A simple harbor walk extending from Owen Park to Packer Oil would go a long way in reconnecting the town to its waterfront, the plan suggests. The harbor walk would serve as the primary element in a connecting pedestrian system that would link all the major areas of downtown and the waterfront. Pedestrian walkways between Tisbury Market and Lagoon Pond Road, Veteran's Park to Union Street, and through the town's municipal parking lots would improve pedestrian accessibility, as well.
The master plan also integrates proposals for improving traffic and pedestrian access at the Steamship Authority ferry terminal, the U.S. Post Office, and the Water Street and Union Street parking lots.
In examining Five Corners, the planning board also took Beach Street Extension into account. Although the Five Corners intersection is the most congested one on the Island, Beach Street Extension, with the vacant Boch Park adjacent to it, is not heavily used.
In the master plan, Beach Street Extension would become a one-way street going towards the water. This in effect, would make Five Corners more manageable by cutting it to four. Depending on the availability of the property, an exit road from Beach Street Extension to Beach Road might be made through Boch Park. The surrounding property could be made into a waterfront park.
The master plan also addresses the location of municipal services. By moving the fire department and other emergency services out of the downtown area, the planning board recommends consolidating the town's administrative functions in a new town hall on Beach Street where the fire department is presently located.
This would free up the former town hall offices beneath the Katharine Cornell Theatre for expansion of cultural events. Any extra space could be used by a nonprofit group or social service agency.
The town hall annex occupies almost three and a half acres of town land directly across from Tisbury School. If the annex was no longer needed, the planning board suggests that a small cluster of 12 to 14 affordable housing units could be built in its place, perhaps for teacher housing and a daycare center.
Two or three housing units and/or a daycare facility also could be built on the former DPW site east of the annex, where town vehicles currently are stored.
While these are just some of the highlights from the detailed draft master plan, the planning board hopes the community will take the opportunity to review it in detail and make suggestions, said Mr. Peak. "In addition to getting the support of people who agree with it, it's important to find out if there are a substantial number of people who have issues we have not thought of and want to hear from," he said.
To comment on the plan or request more information, call the planning board at 508-696-4270.