New plan for Vineyard Haven parking lot

Proposed redesign of Water Street parking lot in Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy town of Tisbury

Based on the consensus of a town committee, the Tisbury selectmen voted Tuesday evening to approve a conceptual plan for the Water Street municipal parking lot, next to the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Vineyard Haven. The selectmen agreed after a discussion with the parking lot committee and representatives from Stop & Shop that the plan will serve as a working template in the development of the final design.

Town administrator Jay Grande, who serves on the eight-member parking lot committee, said the group came to a consensus on potential improvements at a meeting Tuesday afternoon and put together a report to present to the selectmen. Among the highlights, the committee agreed that Norton Lane should remain open to one-way vehicular traffic from Main Street through the parking lot to Water Street, with foundation plantings and trees added alongside the store building to help screen it from Cromwell Lane to Water Street. Mr. Grande said the committee also wants the public restrooms building to remain, with its entrance changed to face Main Street rather than the parking lot. The number of parking spaces is unchanged from the current arrangement.

Planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson, who served on the committee and drew up the conceptual design, said reorienting the restrooms would free up space to widen the three parking bays, to allow for two-way traffic in all of them for better circulation. Keeping the building will preserve the location of a generator that is crucial to the DPW’s wastewater system.

The committee’s plan also includes a dedicated multi-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians, approximately 10 feet wide, along the north and west sides of the lot, to link the Steamship Authority terminal with the Island-wide shared use path network via Cromwell Lane. A public space with vegetation and seating would be created at the west side of the parking lot, adjacent to the path.

In addition to the multi-use path, the committee’s plan calls for widening the sidewalk between the parking lot and Water Street to include a 10- to 15-foot space with trees, shrubs, seating areas, bicycle racks, and signage. With the enhanced sidewalk area, the exit from the lot nearest the store will be decreased from two lanes to one.

Mr. Grande said seven of the eight committee members voted in support of the latest plan. Vineyard Transit Authority member Angela Grant, who abstained, told the committee she did not agree with the entire wording of their consensus. The committee’s decision concluded a several month process.

Possible redesign of the town-owned Water Street parking lot surfaced during discussions about the Stop & Shop company’s proposal to expand its Vineyard Haven store, under review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) since last July.

Stop & Shop wants to consolidate three abutting properties and build a new two-story market that would include a new parking spaces for 41 vehicles in an enclosed area on the ground level. Although the town parking lot is not included in the MVC application, Stop & Shop has agreed to include its redesign and contribute funds as part of the project.

When the parking lot committee failed to reach a consensus on a proposal in mid-February, selectman chairman Jeff Kristal suggested they meet a few more times and bring the process to a conclusion. Stop & Shop representatives in turn requested that the MVC postpone its next public hearing session from February 20 to March 20, in order to give the committee more time, because decisions about the lot’s redesign would have a bearing on the company’s offers to the town.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, selectman Jon Snyder asked the Stop & Shop representatives for comment.

I think the committee has done a lot of work, and this iteration of the plan, we can support – we do support,” Geoghan Coogan, a Tisbury attorney and former selectman who represents Stop & Shop, said. “For us, it was getting to a plan, so we could move forward.”

Mr. Grande said the committee plans to follow up with the selectmen with an executive summary and report. He and the selectmen thanked the committee members for their hard work and time, the MVC for technical support, and the Stop & Shop representatives for taking part. Selectman Tristan Israel reminded everyone that there is still a process the plan must go through before its final approval.

I don’t think it’s an absolutely finished project, but we’ve made progress toward something we can all work with,” selectman Jon Snyder added.

Over the course of their almost three-hour meeting, the selectmen also approved a request from Police Chief Dan Hanavan to fill a vacancy with the conditional appointment of Max Sherman as a permanent officer, pending completion of required screenings. Mr. Sherman was appointed a special officer last November.

The selectmen agreed to a request from Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy and American Legion members Edson Rodgers and Woody Williams, on behalf of Post 257, to hold a parade and rededication ceremony on June 14, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Veterans Memorial Park.

In other business, the selectmen voted to approve proposed fiscal year 2015 budgets, following reports by Ambulance Coordinator Tracey Jones and MVC representatives, executive director Mark London, administrator Curtis Schroeder, chairman Fred Hancock of Oak Bluffs, and clerk-treasurer Brian Smith of West Tisbury.

The selectmen also approved a petition plan from NSTAR to relocate utility poles on Beach Street and add underground cable and conduit; the transfer of a beer and wine license from Mansion House to Copper Wok restaurant owner JB Blau; and requests from harbormaster Jay Wilbur for reserve fund transfers of $5,000 for boat maintenance and $3,000 for fuel. They also appointed Doron Katzman as a member of the Shellfish Advisory Committee and Jackie Willey as an alternate.