Some observations as we wait for one of the most important elections of our lifetime to be over and the ballots counted.
- Vote. Vote. Vote. There’s really no excuse not to cast a ballot in this election. With mail-in voting, early voting that includes weekend hours, and, of course, polls open for 13 hours on Election Day, it’s never been easier to make your voice heard. Don’t be left out. Even if you think Massachusetts voting for Joe Biden is a forgone conclusion, there are other important local races for Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and issues on the ballot like the county treasurer, that need your attention.
- One of the positives of the pandemic — yes, we said positives — is public meeting access via Zoom. We know there have been some technical difficulties (two Larry Gomezes during one Tisbury select board meeting, for example), but the access and transparency of town government has been on full display and accessible to anyone with a computer. We hope that once government boards return to in-person meetings that they will continue to provide Zoom links as another way to provide public access.
- We asked the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for access to their meetings with Tisbury public works officials about the shared-use path on Beach Road, and were denied. A spokesperson for the government agency wrote, “Please note that the meetings that are currently occurring between MassDOT and Tisbury officials are not open to the public.” So, employees for state and local government, paid for with taxpayer money, won’t provide access to an important project that will produce major detours and travel issues on Beach Road. While we understand why they wouldn’t want to open up these meetings to the general public, press access should be provided, or, at the very least, a briefing should be done on what was discussed. It’s a disappointing lack of transparency. The spokesperson did say the project won’t start now until sometime in November.
- The West Tisbury zoning board of appeals needs to give Geoff Rose and Patient Centric a break. Instead of listening to the overzealous concerns of neighbors about Sunday hours, they should allow Rose to try the Sunday hours and see how it goes. Rose has compromised at every turn. He’s voluntarily agreed to run his retail and medical marijuana outlet by appointment only, and has agreed to limit those appointments. He can appeal the conditions imposed by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in six months, and the ZBA has talked about allowing an appeal in a year. Why not turn around your thinking, ZBA, and give Rose an opportunity to try the Sunday hours to see how it works? That way you’ll have something to judge it by, instead of speculation.
- With the exception of maybe Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, can you think of a worse spot to propose a marijuana retail outlet than the Triangle in Edgartown? Main Street Medicinals needs to scrap this idea and find a better location.
- We expected to hear a little more pushback from Steamship Authority board members about the across-the-board rate hikes. Maybe it’s just fatigue from seven months of dealing with COVID-19, but board members acquiesced too easily to the explanation for increases that will affect everyone who uses the ferry. We’re having a hard time believing that in an overall budget of $116.6 million that there is nowhere that the SSA administration could find to trim.
- We find it staggering that it took this far into the process of planning a renovation and addition project of the Tisbury School to ask where students would be housed while the renovations were being done. Given what students have been through at that school — starting last year split up because of air quality issues, then reunited, and then remote learning due to the coronavirus concerns — what to do with students should have been more of a priority. Now officials are scrambling to see if the town can purchase the EduComp building and use a combination of that and portable classrooms to keep students together. And these costs have to be part of every conversation that includes the school project from here on.
- One final thought: Vote, vote, vote. No excuses.