Selectmen ignored the will of the people


To the Editor:

Tuesday night I attended a meeting of the Tisbury board of selectmen about the plans for the reconstruction of Beach Road. While there were lots of differing opinions coming from every corner of the room, and conflicting opinions about what works and what doesn’t, there was an almost unanimous agreement about which of the three options presented was preferred: Option 2, the one called the “hybrid option.”

At the end of the evening, after all this discussion, two of our three selectmen voted against this choice, citing their own personal opinions about an alternative they liked better.

Sometimes a community is divided on an issue, and a selectman has to make a tough call that might alienate half the town, but that is not the case here. Remarkably, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of members of this community, volunteering their time, attending meetings and hearings, reviewing plans and reports from local and state agencies, have managed to produce a plan that enjoys wide support.

I would like to remind our elected officials that they were chosen to represent the town, not to replace it.

I appreciate the fact that their objections are sincere; I have a few of my own, and it is altogether possible that one or more of the possible alternatives is better. But if that’s the case, one has to make a cogent and winning argument for it. Failing that, an elected representative of the town needs to either vote for the community’s choice or abstain.

At this point, I would urge our selectmen to take this up at their next meeting and reconsider this willful and arbitrary decision. If not, then the town should call a special town meeting to allow a formal vote by the whole community on this important issue.  

Lacking that, I would recommend that the planning board refer this issue to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact, which it manifestly is.

Henry Stephenson


Mr. Stephenson is the former co-chairman of the Tisbury planning board.