West Tisbury opts for the Tabernacle again

Indoor venues remain off limits for town meetings.

The Tabernacle will be the site of a West Tisbury fall special town meeting.

Updated August 28

West Tisbury selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday evening to hold a fall special town meeting at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. The decision sets in motion a second historic event following West Tisbury’s unprecedented annual town meeting at the Tabernacle on June 23. Normally held at the West Tisbury School, a new town meeting venue was sought to mitigate the inherent dangers of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The meeting will take place Oct. 6 at 4 pm. Town administrator Jennifer Rand told the selectmen the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association was amenable to a return of West Tisbury voters.

“I have spoken to C.J. Rivard of the Camp Meeting Association,” Rand said. “They had their major board meeting last Saturday, and they are comfortable with the town of West Tisbury holding another town meeting at their facility, which is wonderful.” 

Sunset Lake parking will not be available this time around. “I’m not overly concerned because we’re talking about October,” she said. And according to a count by the Oak Bluffs Fire Department, which facilitated parking at the June meeting, Rand said “no more than 50 cars” were parked. 

Given the time of year, Rand said, she believed a similar number of cars could be dispersed elsewhere in Oak Bluffs without much trouble. She also said she’s asked if Camp Meeting Association lots could be used because it will be off-season. 

Rand went on to say there were other details to iron out, including whether or not a centralized entrance would be feasible or necessary. She expressed confidence that working with the Oak Bluffs Police Department, the health agents, and the Camp Meeting Association, details like that will be taken care of.

Finance committee member Doug Ruskin asked if the meeting could be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center.

Rand said no, that gatherings of over 50 are forbidden indoors. “Inside is not an option,” she said. 

Selectman Skipper Manter added that the high school has special restrictions too.

Rand said she will provide more refined details to the board at their next meeting. She reminded the board they will likely wish to modify the quorum for the meeting, but that due to mandatory notice requirements, such a vote will need to wait.

In other business, in a brief joint session with the finance committee, Doug Finn was appointed to replace Jane Dreeben as a finance committee member. The finance committee voted 4-0 in favor of Finn. The selectmen voted unanimously in favor of his appointment. 

“Thank you for the opportunity,” Finn said. 

Updated to correct the date of the special town meeting.