Tisbury visioning meeting moves forward

Pedestrian and bicycle safety were topics of discussion at last Thursday’s well-attended meeting.

Participants filled out a survey at the Tisbury visioning workshop last Thursday. — Photo by Rich Saltzberg

Tisbury efforts to look down the road took another step forward last week when town officials and residents met Thursday at the Tisbury Senior Center for the latest Community Vision meeting, to assess findings to date and explore goals for the future.

At the outset of the meeting, chairman of the board of selectmen and visioning advisory committee member Jonathan Snyder outlined the goals of the effort. “Vision planning is the process of determining where we want to go and what we want to become,” he said. “Tonight we move from envisioning a future Tisbury to thinking about its implementation.”

“Where we’re getting to now,” planning board member and organizer Cheryl Doble said, “is setting goals and putting an action plan in place, and thinking about how we begin to implement and move forward. This is really where the rubber starts to hit the road for us.”

Ms. Doble and planning board member Ben Robinson led the discussion, using a slideshow of graphs and tables to highlight particular topics.

Sidewalk and bicycle safety drew the most comments from the attendees. Several people pointed out that Tisbury’s sidewalks were an unsafe patchwork, and that bicyclists, fearing the roadway, illegally rode on them and posed a danger to pedestrians.

Tisbury Selectman Tristan Israel said that the town had tried and failed to put together dedicated bike paths in the past.

Board of Assessors member Angela Cywinski described the intersection of Skiff Avenue and Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road as the town’s most treacherous for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“How many people have been hit and died there?” she asked.

Architect James Weisman vented frustration with sidewalk snow removal.

“Snow [removal] in this town right now represents a lack of caring about the citizens,” he said. “If you try to walk from Five Corners to Main Street, you have to do it in the street.”

Martha’s Vineyard Commission member and owner of Barnes Moving and Storage Clarence “Trip” Barnes lamented that Tisbury had lost much of its working waterfront and many of its core businesses over the years. He cautioned the room not to head further down the “pretend town” path.

“We had a wonderful town,” he said “We had Sears and Roebuck. We had the IGA Store. Before that it was the First National. We had the A&P. We had Cronig’s. We had the Post Office uptown. We had a town. You’re going to have to reinvent the town. I’m not knocking any business that’s up there right now, but the rents are so high, the only thing we’ve got up there are galleries and clothing stores and gift shops. We don’t really have a town anymore.”

A handout outlined the visioning process goals. These include: Remain a strong, forward-looking, year-round community; act as responsible stewards of our natural environment; sustain a beautiful and lasting built environment; reduce traffic congestion and create better parking solutions; create a welcoming gateway and a vibrant town center; create an accessible waterfront; create a public realm that connects and integrates great neighborhoods, parks, and open space; build a network of safe walking and biking routes.