Members of Plastic Free MV went to the Tisbury town hall Wednesday and convinced selectmen to hold an emergency meeting Friday to consider putting their plastic bottle bylaw back on the town meeting warrant, after selectmen made a decision to remove it earlier this week.
If the town decides not to reopen the warrant, the students say they’ll be ready with a petition to hold a special town meeting instead, where they will present their plastic bottle ban bylaw to the public.
Selectmen scheduled a meeting for Friday at 4:30 pm at the Emergency Services Facility to consider putting the bylaw back on their warrant.
Town administrator Jay Grande met with Plastic Free and told them that they could petition for a special town meeting where their warrant article could be considered. The students need 200 signatures to initiate a special town meeting, according to West Tisbury school teacher and head of Plastic Free MV, Annemarie Ralph.
Ralph said town counsel was present, and they notified the group that it was “legally possible” for selectmen to reopen the town warrant and consider the bylaw.
“Jay was very helpful, and now we know what we need to do,” Ralph said.
The students gathered in front of the town hall Wednesday after school with signs reading, “Let the voters decide.”
According to Plastic Free MV member Runar Finn Robinson, his dad saw a Tweet from The Times that selectmen were going through the town meeting warrant, and ended up voting unanimously to remove the Plastic Free MV bylaw from the list.
“We just rushed over there after we saw that,” Runar Finn said.
Another Plastic Free member, Quinlan Slavin, said selectmen were concerned that local businesses would be hurt financially by a plastic bottle ban.
But Odin Robinson said he and a number of other Plastic Free members talked with local businesses already, and they didn’t share the selectmen’s qualms.
Runar Finn said he doesn’t think the Island should import water in plastic bottles when we have such a high-quality aquifer on the Island.
“Why waste money importing plastic and polluting when we could be selling reusable water bottles instead and just drinking the water that is available here?” Runar Finn said.
The kids missed the deadline to petition for their warrant article, and Quinlan said it was wrong of selectmen to remove the warrant article without notifying them, especially when it was approved last spring.
“We’ve tried calling in to talk with them and they haven’t answered yet,” Elliot Stead, one of the Plastic Free kids, said.
If the students cannot get their article back on the warrant, and if they do not get enough signatures to petition for a special town meeting, Ralph said their only option is to try and make an amendment on town meeting floor before the warrant is passed.
“We want to let the public decide whether they want this bylaw or not, just like in the up-Island towns,” Ralph said.
Updated to include the decision to hold a meeting Friday and to correct how Runar Finn Robinson’s dad found out about the decision. -Ed.