Beer and wine, and what’s next


To the Editor:

Should West Tisbury allow beer and wine in restaurants?

Legally, allowing one-day fundraising events to serve beer and wine to benefit good causes seems reasonable. What are the benefits of serving beer and wine in restaurants?

We have a ballot vote on April 12 that has the potential to create a sea change in West Tisbury’s character and identity forever. It is the seemingly innocent decision of whether or not restaurants should be allowed to serve beer and wine at their establishments. Currently, there are only three businesses that would receive the benefit of a favorable vote. What are the long-term impacts and benefits of this decision to West Tisbury’s taxpayers and voters? Perhaps we should evaluate how we got here in the first place.

A favorable ballot vote contradicts the spirit of the petition that persuaded the Massachusetts legislature to grant West Tisbury its independence from Tisbury almost 120 years ago to the day – on April 28, 1892. Here is the closing argument presented by West Tisbury to the legislature in February 1892:

“It is not the case of a young offshoot of an old town, grown tired of the conservatism and old-fogyishness of its parent and seeking to control its own affairs; but it is an appeal on the part of a parent for protection… (from an) offspring…laying on her expenses for development and improvement…from which she derives no appreciable benefits. It is an appeal on behalf of a farming people to be set off from a people whose tendencies are ‘citified,’ and to be relieved from…the taxes which were perfectly proper for a seaport and summer resort, but were a heavy burden on farmers and fishers…”

We have a paradox. Conventional progress and development of a town (getting “citified”) generally adds to its appeal and value over time. We, however, live in a special place where the more we hold off the pressures of progress and preserve West Tisbury’s unique character and traditional qualities, the more appealing our town (and Island) becomes.

As we mark our ballots, may I suggest the following for your consideration:

Will approval give the town of West Tisbury any appreciable benefits?

Will approval of this measure lower our taxes?

Do we wish to become more “citified” in the name of progress?

How will this decision affect the future development of West Tisbury’s mixed-use business district?

Will approval increase the total price of a nice dinner out – versus the current “bring your own” arrangement?

If this passes, what’s next?

Chuck Hodgkinson

West Tisbury