‘Hard liquor is unnecessary’


To the Editor:

When I was young, I had a friend who would say, “What’s one more drink going to do?” Later, stumbling out of the bar or restaurant, he would fall into his truck and drive off. If he was lucky he would get stopped by the police and spend a night sleeping it off in the hoosegow. If not, he and his truck would be found in a ditch or crunched into whichever inanimate solid object his truck would come up against. He was pretty much stymied, when he was conscious, about why the side, front, or back of his truck was staved in. He eventually died of cirrhosis of the liver.

I want to emphasis that I am not a teetotaler, nor am I here to wail about the sins of drinking. What I really needed is to get your attention with a true story about revitalization and taxes. It’s been heard about town that hard liquor will help revitalize Main Street, Tisbury. If we are lucky, it will create more activity, with restaurant patrons and maybe more police patrols. As our neighboring towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown can attest, they add more police in the summer to control people who abuse alcohol. “What’s one more drink …?”

Liquor may help revitalization with physical altercations on Main Street, as it does in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. We could sit and watch the rumbles go on, and maybe place a quick bet or two. Then there is always the animated driving of cars, which will help create an upswing in the insurance business. Or this could be a prizewinner for the autobody guys; “What happened to my truck?”

In reality, hard liquor is unnecessary, If the restaurant hasn’t succeeded with the alcohol they’re pushing now, what makes them think hard liquor will help? The reason that downtown has dwindled over the past 15 years has been the loss of community-based things to do, which a T shirt shop, or alcohol, or a restaurant isn’t going to help revitalize. So how do you stop Main Street from developing … cirrhosis of the liver? YOU, the townspeople, have to think outside of the box.

OK, let’s go back to drinking. (No snickering.) First of all, you have to figure out if hard liquor drunk with dinner will revitalize anything. And by the way, when has any real drinker had liquor during dinner? I know for me my gin and tonic is thrown back way before dinner arrives. Sometimes it is with a clam on the half shell or some finger nibble. Is that the food they are talking about? Or is a bunch of cheesy potato skins considered food? Is sushi considered dinner? Beer and wine the majority of the time of course are guzzled with a dinner unless of course you’re a connoisseur.

Now beware! This is where taxes become sneaky. Town taxes will sneak up when more drinking occurs, because the things that they don’t want to tell you are, there will be more overtime pay, with the addition of patrolmen, maintenance of the slammer, maybe a new patrol car, the insurances to the town. There are court appearances, lawyer fees, property damage, and other. That one more drink is not that taxable! 1.2 percent is what Tisbury gets in taxing food and beverages.

Revitalization 101: If you want to revitalize the town and get taxes flowing, go look at other healthy towns. They have a working master plan. There are interesting and needed stores downtown that have not relocated in a mall or outside the downtown. The rents are reasonable. The storefronts have inviting faces; there are hair salons. There are satellite stores for hardware, insurance companies, banks, barbers, fine art galleries, doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, a weekly farmstand. The architecture is inviting: more trees, widen the sidewalks, more trees, more flowers, more trees, a coordinated streetscape, WELL-PLANNED directions from the boat to Main Street. Guided tours. Inventive walks through our town, our parks. Be inclusive of bicycles. Encourage the mixture of older people with young people, reinvent talking to each other face to face. Animate the downtown area, not just pass through!

So look at the bottom line on this liquor vote, and see that proponents are right that we need to revitalize the town center. Liquor isn’t it. It costs us too much money, with no real return for the town, and if we look a bit further, the truth is it’s about lining the pocket of a few individuals who don’t even live in Tisbury. Selling of any liquor does not revitalize a town; it costs more and profits very few! And any recognizable revenue (1.2 percent) is usually lost to itemized town department issues.

It’s best to remember that our town, without any real form of a master plan, is slowly dying of cirrhosis of the liver. I for one am not going to vote for hard liquor to be sold in Tisbury. I am going to continue to try and persuade the town to develop a master plan that will be all-inclusive. And I will continually speak up positively about our town, and find people to invest in other enterprises for our future. And I will continue to walk occasionally downtown, and speak to old and young.

Jeez, I need a beer.

JD Hodsdon

Vineyard Haven