Tashmoo turning into a party on the water

Residents of Daggett Avenue take aim at decision to restrict parking without a hearing.

The parking situation on Daggett Avenue, particularly the decision to restrict parking without a public hearing got some pushback Tuesday night. — George Brennan

Lake Tashmoo is a popular spot for people with power boats to drop anchor, play music, and drink alcohol, and some Tisbury residents say things are getting out of hand.

At the Tisbury board of selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night, three residents called on the town to provide more training for assistant harbormasters and beef up patrols of the popular spot on weekends.

Reached Wednesday, harbormaster John Crocker, who was not at the meeting, said Tashmoo’s popularity is nothing new, but his department is stretched thin because he’s down an assistant who is on medical leave, and the remaining staff are young assistants trained to call him if an enforcement issue arises. “They do a great job, too,” he said.

Theresa Morrison told the board motorboats tie up and the people on boats drink all day long. “They’re using Tashmoo as a bathroom,” she said. “It’s not a pretty sight.”

Mr. Crocker said he has no doubts that happens at times. “If I saw it, I would do something about it,” he told The Times.

Lynne Fracker, another resident, showed selectmen photographs of two large motorboats that appeared to be anchored in the Tashmoo channel. The young harbormaster assistants are respectful, but don’t appear to know the rules for Lake Tashmoo or how to enforce them, she said. For example, there’s a rule that only three boats should be tied together, but at times there are as many as five, she said.

“Regulations say three boats, and we shouldn’t allow four to avoid the party atmosphere in there,” Ms. Fracker said.

Harbormaster employees, with help at times from the police, do ask larger parties to disperse, Mr. Crocker said.

Lake Tashmoo has long been a place for families to enjoy recreation, he said. That sometimes includes grilling hamburgers and drinking beer.

“I do not see it as an unsafe environment there,” Mr. Crocker said. “If I saw it as unsafe, I would change it. It’s a very positive atmosphere 99 percent of the time.”

The police do have a presence on Sunday afternoons, but that’s the only staffing the town can afford beyond harbormaster employees, Police Chief Daniel Hanavan said.

At one point, there was a policy to greet boaters entering Tashmoo and hand them a pamphlet, selectman Tristan Israel said. It may be time to “revisit and re-energize” those efforts, Mr. Israel said.

Harbor staff still do that, and have a second pamphlet that points out an area selectmen have declared a “no-anchorage zone,” Mr. Crocker said.

In other business, selectmen were chastised by residents of Daggett Avenue for instituting “no parking” on one side of the street two weeks ago, at the request of the police and fire chiefs.

Chief Hanavan said the decision was a good one. “If you can’t get emergency vehicles through, it’s better for everyone” to restrict parking, he said.

But Jim Jones, a resident of Daggett Avenue, rejected the notion that selectmen were reacting to safety concerns. “My strongest objection is how you did it,” Mr. Jones said, noting it came without warning.

The result, Mr. Jones said, is that speeding has increased on the street. “I sit on my porch every day and watch people race up and down that road,” he said.

Bruce Daggett, another resident of the street, wasn’t as upset about the restricted parking as he was about which side was chosen. He said it’s had an impact on mail delivery, because all of the mailboxes are on the only side of the street where cars can now park. “That to me was a big mistake,” he said.

When selectman Melinda Loberg conceded that the town’s process was flawed, a fired-up John Schilling, the town’s fire chief, objected. He pointed out that Mr. Israel was reluctant to vote, but ultimately did because the chiefs were adamant that there was a problem of emergency vehicle access. “I appreciate the fact they responded to us in a timely fashion,” he said.

The board voted 2-0, with Ms. Loberg abstaining, to ask DPW director Ray Tattersall to look at moving a ‘no parking’ sign from in front of Mr. Jones’ home and to mark the parking spaces on the streets.

The board also accepted a $371,000 Complete Streets grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, accepted an $8,593 grant from the waterways committee to test denitrification septic systems locally, and agreed to declare a “Good Samaritans Day” in Tisbury.