Alcohol for Vineyard Haven festival may hit sour note

Show will go on with or without it; new cops hired.


The three-day music festival planned for August 9-11 in Vineyard Haven could have an approved contract by the end of this week, but concertgoers may have to watch the performances without alcohol.

At Tuesday’s Tisbury board of selectmen meeting, the board voted unanimously to charge Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation & Arts Entertainment, $25,000 for use of Veterans Memorial Park — $40,000 if he’s issued a liquor license for the festival.

It remains up in the air whether the town’s special legislation allowing the sale of alcohol in town permits selectmen to issue a license on town-owned land. Chairman Tristan Israel asked town administrator Jay Grande to get a definitive opinion from the town’s attorney.

“I’ve committed to doing this and I’ve committed to doing it with or without alcohol,” Epstein told the board.

Epstein said he plans to rent up to 50 buses to shuttle customers to the festival from offsite parking out of town. Two lots have been secured, which he is not ready to identify, which will benefit nonprofit groups who will be able to charge for parking.

Causeway Street and Skiff Avenue will be closed during the concert, though residents of those streets will be issued permits so they can get to and from their houses, Epstein said.

Epstein has also agreed to reimburse the town for all services during the concert, which now exceeds more than $100,000. “I have not put any cap on it,” he said.

“I’m confident we’ll have a safe event,” Police Chief Mark Saloio said. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be an incident.”

Saloio said he’d actually prefer that alcohol be served at the event, rather than having people try to sneak it in. “I’ll make sure we’re staffed appropriately,” he said.

The three-day music festival, which will feature a showing of “Jaws” on Friday with a symphony playing the haunting score live, and multi-band concerts on Saturday and Sunday with performers still to be announced, was first talked about in December. It’s been a slow slog toward getting the details ironed out, and each time it comes up the Island has a mixed reception to it.

“It could be the smartest thing we’ve ever done or the dumbest thing we’ve ever done,” selectman Jim Rogers said. “My hope is to hopefully enhance some business in Tisbury and not have a negative impact on people who live in the area, so I’m in favor.”

Grande said he hopes to have all the details worked out by mid-May.

New officers on board

Selectmen approved the hiring of two new police officers — Pierce Harrar and Nick Sidoti. Saloio said the new hires bring the department’s total number of officers up to 10.

Harrar finished with a 94.2 score at the police academy, and Sidoti, who served as class president of the recruits, scored 92.5, Saloio said. He called their performances “exemplary” in recommending they be hired.

“They have the right demeanor, the right presence, the right state of mind I’m looking for in Tisbury police officers,” the chief said.

There was some controversy when the two candidates were sent off to the 22-week academy when the town reluctantly agreed to pay their tuition, but declined to pay for their off-Island housing.

Harrar, who grew up in Tisbury, told the board he’s committed to the town. “I still live in Tisbury… My beautiful girlfriend lives in Tisbury. My dog lives in Tisbury. My father lives in Tisbury. My brother lives in Tisbury. It’s where I want to be…,” Harrar said. “It’s where I want to have a long, hopefully successful, career.”

Sidoti told the board this is his third career path, but he’s committed to being a police officer through retirement. “This is a new challenging location to be in, but in the best ways,” he said. “I’m here now. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, the next day, and every day after. I’m very excited.”

Elissa Decosta was added as a traffic officer.

Later, Saloio updated the board on some staffing changes he’s implementing. He plans to schedule a sergeant’s exam in August and in the interim has appointed two acting sergeants — Bill Brigham who will work the 4 to 12 shift and Jeff Day who will work the midnight shift. Sgt. Chris Habekost is being moved to the day shift, Saloio said. The sergeants will provide “more active patrol supervision, more active guidance,” he said.

“With responsibility comes accountability,” Rogers said.

Beach Road woes

Selectmen weren’t thrilled with a response the town received from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation regarding a shared-use path (SUP) for Beach Road. The town wants MassDOT to revert to a symmetrical design to avoid taking land from property owners.

“I’m very disappointed [Thomas] Currier couldn’t answer us directly,” Israel said before reading a letter from another MassDOT official.

“I appreciate the engineer’s polite words. Doesn’t make the process right,” Israel said. “It’s been a major disappointment. I think the process has been horrendous.”

The idea behind the SUP is to connect Vineyard Haven with Oak Bluffs. It has the support of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

“The concept might be great, but in my opinion they’re trying to cram too much in an area that doesn’t fit,” Rogers said. He reiterated his opposition to land-takings by eminent domain.

An emotional Dorothy Packer, who is both a property owner and business owner on Beach Road, read a letter urging the board to do more to stop the project.

“We’re all in this together,” she said before reading the letter. “We’re being told what’s going to happen to us… They’re already processing the eminent domain. They’re marching ahead. I don’t think writing letters anymore is doing any good.”

In other business, the board approved a moped rental license for Island Adventure Rentals on Beach Road. Before voting in favor of the license, Rogers expressed his disdain for mopeds. “I’m just adverse to mopeds in general,” he said.

The board also approved a car rental license for Island Adventure and Vineyard Enterprise.

In another unanimous vote, the board approved First Fridays — a night of arts and entertainment sponsored by the Vineyard Haven Business Association to attract tourists to Main Street.

Similar to Edgartown on Monday, Israel expressed outrage at bills filed by Sen. Julian Cyr and state Rep. Dylan Fernandes for a Housing Bank on Martha’s Vineyard given the opposition by selectmen to the proposal. He compared it to a herbicide-related home rule petition approved at last year’s town meeting that has been slow to make its way through the Legislature by comparison. “It just doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.



  1. Close Skiff Ave. for three days in August and consider letting a thousand plus crowd to drink alcohol at a concert in down town Tisbury. The back up at State and Edgartown intersection will be historic we will be talking about it well into December, without the pop off valve of Skiff Ave. I foresee misery for many people trying to go shopping for food and other sundries of life. Where do the BOS live fantasy island?

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