Trucks, vans, and other commercial vehicles parked in the town’s park and ride lot off State Road could soon be paying more to park there, and be limited to the amount of spots they’re allowed to use.
As part of a freewheeling discussion of parking regulations, which will eventually go to a public hearing, the board of selectmen on Tuesday appeared adamant that companies that commute to the Island to perform services are getting what amounts to a free ride when it comes to parking their vehicles overnight.
“They’re making a fortune on this Island, and they’re getting a free deal or almost a free deal up at our park and ride,” Selectman Tristan Israel said.
Provisions should be made for Vineyard businessmen and women, including those from other Island towns, who have commercial plates and use the lots to travel off-Island, Mr. Israel said.
“We’re trying to target off-Island companies that bring vehicles here and use our spaces with minimal expense,” Selectman Melinda Loberg said. “It just seems to be cowboy law up there. It seems to me that if commercial interests are going to park up there, we should make them pay for it.”
Other proposed regulations also aim at clamping down on commercial vehicles that use public parking lots to their advantage. For example, the parking committee is proposing no overnight parking at the Church Street tennis courts, and limiting parking at the facility to two hours.
“Is that long enough for a tennis match?” town administrator Jay Grande said. (Actually a Wimbledon match this week, Nadal versus Muller, lasted nearly five hours.)
But while the board appeared to reach consensus on clamping down on commuters using town parking spaces for their commercial vehicles, there was some back and forth on what to do with a town parking lot off State Road, near the center of town.
The parking committee is recommending using the lot for short-term parking to help downtown Vineyard Haven businesses, while Mr. Israel is opposed to it, saying it will exacerbate the traffic on the busy road as motorists attempt to find parking in the lot.
“Before you do this, you really ought to look at what the impact on a failed road system is going to be before you introduce this,” he said. “It’s failed right now; it’s a mess right now.”
He called for a study of the issue, perhaps with the help of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
“We’re going to study to death,” said David Ferraguzzi, a member of the parking committee. “Every time you go by it, doesn’t it frost you that there is a parking lot with empty spaces?”
The town leases the spaces on an annual basis, getting more than $20,000 in revenue, but fewer than 10 cars are parked in the lot.
Short-term parking could generate revenue for the town and ease a traffic crunch in the downtown area, Mr. Ferraguzzi said.
“The public is disturbed that it’s not public — that they don’t have use of it,” Cheryl Doble, a member of the parking committee and planning board, said.
In other business, selectmen approved their moped regulations, which include enforcement by the police and building inspector and spot checks by the police, with little fanfare. The board did not set new fine schedules because those have to be adopted at town meeting by voters, Mr. Grande said.
Jason Leone, owner of Adventure Rentals, the lone moped rental shop in Vineyard Haven, was in the back of the room but did not speak during the continued public hearing.
Selectmen voted unanimously to send a letter to Martha’s Vineyard Museum warning that future complaints about events at the museum’s new home could result in a moratorium on outdoor events.
The museum rented the space over the weekend to Sail MV’s Martha’s Vineyard Cup regatta. Fire Chief John Schilling said the event had bands using amplifiers for its music, a violation of what selectmen had told museum officials a couple of weeks ago.
“The next time it’s violated, we’ll seriously consider suspending any events for the summer — period,” Mr. Israel said.
Phil Wallis, the museum’s executive director, issued a statement Wednesday saying that the music ended at 7:45 pm both nights, well before the 10 pm deadline mandated by the town. “We did not receive any complaints onsite from anyone, but we will certainly work with abutters and other interested parties to address decibel levels of the amplified music in the future,” Mr. Wallis said. “We will also continue to seek feedback in this early stage of having amplified music on the site. We plan to meet with representatives from the town in the next week to iron out any issues with the permitting process, and will continue to abide by both town bylaws and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission ruling.”
The board, once again, continued the public hearing for an all-alcohol license for Black Dog Bakery Cafe, whose license is on hold because selectmen don’t like the way the restaurant operates — having customers place drink orders at a counter and then delivering the drinks to a table.
The Black Dog’s license hearing was continued until Aug. 22 at the request of the owner, Mr. Grande said.
Common victualler’s licenses were renewed for Tropical Brazilian Restaurant at 13 Beach Road Ext. and Woodland Grill at 455 State Road.
The board agreed to hold a public hearing on proposed sewer rate increases. Included in the proposed fee structure is a way to recover costs for a new property to connect to the system, since betterments were charged when the system was installed. The rates will be 50 percent of the total cost of the wastewater treatment facility, prorated for the rest of the loan period, and based on the assigned Title 5 flow rate for the property, Ms. Loberg said.
The board also praised Mr. Grande for the more than $1 million in grants the town has received over the past year, including an expected $371,000 for its Complete Streets program.
“We’re doing very well this year. I’m not suggesting it will always work out this well,” he said.
“When we have success we should toot our horn,” Mr. Israel said.
Selectmen gave DPW director Ray Tattersall the green light to do repairs to the Water Street parking lot.