Leaseholders at a public parking lot in Vineyard Haven will pay 67 percent more beginning next month to park, and an additional 25 percent the following year.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Tisbury board of selectmen agreed with Fire Chief John Schilling that the $1,200 annual fee to park in the Beach Street lot, which amounts to $3.28 per day, was “obscenely” low for a parking space.
The lot is located on the site of the former fire station, and is within walking distance of the ferry terminal and downtown businesses.
The increase brings the total to to $5.48 per day. “It’s still cheap,” said selectman Jim Rogers, who made the motion to increase the fees over the next two years.
The original price was set four or five years ago, and was based on what private companies lease spots for, town administrator Jay Grande told the board.
“We should have started higher to begin with,” selectman Melinda Loberg said.
Selectmen also discussed the idea of using a kiosk system for the lot for daily parking, as well as having the Martha’s Vineyard Commission perhaps do an analysis. Chairman Tristan Israel said he wants to see enforcement in the lot, as well.
Grande said there should be a broader discussion about parking in Vineyard Haven. “The question is do you want metered parking,” he said. “That’s the threshold question you have to answer.”
Dan Seidman, a member of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority board of directors, went before selectmen to ask that they change the way the town pays its share of the housing authority’s administrative budget.
Unlike the Island’s other five towns, Tisbury requires the agency to bill the town; the authority has to wait for payments. Recently a dispute over retirement costs for the authority’s three employees has delayed payment of more than $5,000, Seidman said.
Jon Snyder, the town’s finance director, said the change to the current arrangement was made because of a “discrepancy between what was asked for and what was being spent.” He said there ought to be transparency for any agency that’s asking for taxpayer money, though he acknowledged the process is different for the regional housing authority than it is for the Vineyard Transit Authority or the regional high school. Those are paid quarterly, he said.
Any change back to paying the housing authority in a lump sum based on what’s budgeted should come at a joint meeting between the selectmen and the finance committee, Snyder said.
Israel suggested setting a standard to deal with such payments, something Grande said is being worked on by Snyder.
The town doesn’t have the time to be going through regional budgets line item by line item, Israel said.
Seidman did not leave Tuesday’s meeting with any more money for the regional housing authority. Israel said he wants to make sure the town’s on firm footing before paying that bill.
In other business, selectmen heard a plea from Beach Road resident Frank Brunelle for information from the Friends of Tisbury to determine if trees along Beach Road are protected shade trees. The records exist, according to Brunelle, but are not publicly available.
If the trees are protected, Brunelle could seek a hearing before any are taken down as part of a shared-use path proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Brunelle has been a critic of that plan, suggesting a symmetrical bike path is the way to go on Beach Road.
The town is attempting to inventory all shade trees it would like to have protected after some beloved pear trees on Clough Lane were taken down by the property owner.
Meanwhile, Israel used a later agenda item to chastise the Martha’s Vineyard Commission chairman Jim Vercruysse and executive director Adam Turner for their comments about the SUP at the board’s meeting. Turner was there to give an update on the commission.
“I found it extraordinary that the chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission would come into one of our meetings and talk about what they did last week — their support of this project and they want to see it approved,” Israel said. “I’ve never seen them do this in any other town …” He said his “beef’ is with the commission “interfering” while the town awaits final tweaks to the project by MassDOT.
Israel said his comments were not about the merits of the project, which he has vacillated on, but now opposes.
“I was a little taken aback,” Rogers said, noting that he felt the comments were directed at him, since he’s been on record that he’s on the fence about the state project.
Loberg, who has never wavered in her support of the SUP, said it came as no surprise to her. “Now that it has been at 100 percent design, they wanted to go on record as supporting the project,” she said.
“We disagree, but that’s what makes life interesting,” Israel said.
In other business, Police Chief Mark Saloio was officially sworn in by town clerk Hilary Conklin, with his wife, as well as Tisbury police, fire, and EMS personnel on hand.
“Welcome aboard, I want to wish you the best,” Israel said.
After thanking those in attendance, including his new officers, Saloio said, “I’m excited to be here.”
The board unanimously supported an all-alcohol license for Golden Bull Brazilian Steakhouse at 13 Beach Road Ext. The restaurant, which is at Five Corners, has been fully renovated and is still a couple of weeks away from opening, Geoghan Coogan, an attorney for the project, said.
Selectmen also unanimously supported a flashing crosswalk sign, perhaps one that would include the speed of cars, at the crosswalk by the town’s elderly housing complex at Hillside Village on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road.
DPW director Ray Tattersall said the solar-powered flashing lights would cost about $17,000, and he will ask MassDOT if highway funds can be used for the project. He said he’s not sure how much more it would be to add the speed limit to the signs.
Grande suggested using the town’s portable speed limit sign for “traffic calming” at the site in the interim.
The board, by consensus, also agreed to have a crosswalk at the end of a bike path on Sanborn Way.
Building inspector Ken Barwick is back on the job after a medical leave, Grande said. Barwick, who was in the audience, got a hearty welcome back from board members, with Loberg joking that he stayed even after seeing the volume of work.
Barwick will be enlisted in helping Grande develop a plan to merge services with Oak Bluffs, to help both towns.
In another unanimous vote, Julia Kidd was appointed to serve on the town’s cultural council.