New life for assistant natural resources post

Tisbury select board also approves a reduced speed limit for Franklin Street.


A month ago a proposed natural resources assistant position to be shared between the Tisbury harbormaster and shellfish constable appeared dead in the water.

But on Tuesday, during their latest marathon 3 hour, 15 minute session, the Tisbury select board had a change of heart, and will now recommend the new position to town meeting voters. Their decision follows support by the town’s finance committee for the new position.

In the process, a part-time summer assistant to harbormaster John Crocker will be eliminated, and a seasonal employee who helps out shellfish constable Danielle Ewart in the off-season is being cut.

Though select board chair Jim Rogers said he still has questions about how the roles will be delineated, select board member Jeff Kristal said Crocker has put together an “action binder,” and town administrator Jay Grande can work on an organizational flow chart.

“Who is this person going to report to in the wintertime, John or Danielle?” Rogers said. “If something goes wrong, and we always know that something can go wrong, it comes to accountability … So I think that needs to be ironed out before we can move forward with this or any other position in town.”

Despite making that statement, Rogers approved moving ahead with the new employee moments later.

Kristal said the harbor and shellfish departments have a lot of work ahead of them, and will need the help with new aquaculture farms, dock work, and enforcement. He pointed out that the town’s buildings are falling apart because maintenance was neglected.
“I don’t want to neglect departments because we’re too frugal with putting the money or resources in to support them,” he said.


Slow down on Franklin Street

Drivers will have to slow down on a section of Franklin Street, but the Tisbury select board stopped short of reducing the speed limit on the entire street to 25 mph.

Police Chief Mark Saloio said there have been 80 crashes on the street, 18 of them hit-and-runs to parked cars. He suggested reducing the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 from Leland Avenue to Spring Street.
“It’s my opinion that changing the speed limit from 30 to 25 won’t solve the problem completely, but it will help slow people down a little bit,” he said.

Select board member Larry Gomez, who lives on Greenwood Avenue, said speed is definitely a problem on the street. “We talked about this in my other term, and it never got changed,” he said, adding that he wholeheartedly supported reducing the speed limit.

Pamela Brock, who lives on Franklin toward West Chop, appeared to have the board convinced to look at reducing the speed to the entire stretch of roadway. “The speeders certainly get revved up near that Mink Meadows Road,” she said.

Siobhan Mullin of Betty’s Lane said it’s dangerous for pedestrians and children riding bikes on Franklin Street. “You’re taking your life in your hands on that road some days, with the speed that people do from Bernard Circle out to West Chop Woods, actually as far as West Chop itself,” she said. A reduced speed limit would make her feel safer, she said.

However, Nelson Sigelman, who lives on Bernard Circle, questioned reducing the speed limit in areas where there is no street parking, saying it would feel like “crawling” at 25 mph headed toward West Chop. “I don’t believe in management by worst-case anecdote here,” he said.

Kristal recommended approving the chief’s recommendation and taking a wait-and-see approach on the other stretch of road.

The board approved the reduced speed limit unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, Saloio was pressed on his budget proposal for fiscal year 2022. The budget contains funding for 14 officers, but the 14th slot remains unfilled. Saloio hinted that it’s litigation that is keeping him from filling the position. He said the position is needed, but Gomez in particular was not convinced, saying that the size of the department continues to creep up.

“If we don’t need the officer now, take out the money,” Gomez said.

In a separate vote, Andrew St. Pierre was hired as a full-time traffic officer. He will replace Eloise Boales, who retires at the end of this week.


Beach Road, gas tanks, and permits

The construction of a shared-use path, in general, and the relocation of sewer pipes, in particular, continue to be a source of frustration for the select board.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to send a letter to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and copy it to the Island’s legislative delegation, seeking a solution to the infrastructure work before any work continues. Once construction is underway, “we’ll have little management control,” Grande said.

“Fixing this sewer line is part of their Beach Road project, and it’s something they should be held accountable for,” Rogers said.

Debby Packer, whose family owns commercial property along the waterfront side of Beach Road, implored the board to do more to stop the project, saying it’s unsafe, particularly for large trucks going to and from the ferries and to her family’s barge business, because it doesn’t follow National Highway Traffic Safety guidelines. “I think this is an emergency,” she said. “You have the power to save Tisbury’s working waterfront that benefits everyone on Martha’s Vineyard … I’m begging with you. I’m pleading with you to take action. It is in your hands.”

She said MassDOT has gotten a waiver to reduce the size of the travel lanes to accommodate the SUP from the standard of 12 feet to 10.5 feet. “That puts a lot of pressure” on truck drivers, she said. “It’s hard to understand if you’re not a CDL driver.”

She said the idea that the Beach Road SUP is the “missing link” for bike travel isn’t accurate.

Kristal again reiterated that the current board doesn’t support the SUP, and is working within the process to advocate for the town and property owners. “This board hasn’t sat back being silent about it, we’ve been working the channels,” Kristal said.

In a separate Beach Road matter, the town will allow the owners of the Citgo gas station to run a hose across Beach Road, down Beach Street Extension, and into the harbor to dispose of groundwater. 

Adam Guaraldi, who spoke on behalf of Citgo, said typically they would be allowed to pump the groundwater into storm drains, but the ones on Beach Road are not working properly. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the conservation commission have approved the complicated plan for surface discharge of the water using the hose from the station to the harbor.

It’s all part of a project to remove aging fuel storage tanks and replace them with new ones, Guaraldi told the board.

The select board approved the project unanimously, but with conditions. Citgo must indemnify the town, provide evidence of liability insurance, and finish the project (at least the use of town roads) by May 26.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the purchase of a $65,000 command vehicle for the fire department after briefly considering a lease option. Town meeting voters will have the ultimate say.

The board also enthusiastically supported an all-alcohol license for Stephen Bowen’s newest restaurant venture. Bowen is opening Fish Tales at 80 Main St. It’s located next door to his existing restaurants, La Soffitta and Waterside Market.

The board also approved 330 additional gallons of flow for a development proposed by Sam Dunn at the former Santander Bank on Main Street. The board took no action on Dunn’s request for access to the property via town roads, because the developer was not available on the Zoom call to explain what he was requesting. 

A public hearing on sewer regulations and a proposed new fee structure was scheduled for April 27 at 6 pm.


  1. The Shared Use Path will not be safe. Think about the various speeds of personal modes of transportation, skateboards, skates, walkers, runners, one wheel motorized boards, scooters, motorized scooters, bicycles and motorized bicycles, GOING IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. A few Humans will also be using earbuds. Then add the fact that the traffic on the path will be two way. Perhaps a slight widening on both sides would be safer. It is essential to allow ample lanes for truck and automobile traffic. It would be safer to ride a bicycle in the traffic lane, incurring the wrath of the drivers, than to use the proposed Shared Use Path.

  2. My apologies for being redundant, saying both directions and two way. I should have proof read more carefully, my excuse is the 20 year old cat on my lap. Hence, the department of redundancy department was not functioning.

  3. Well I guess it was too good to be true that a town on the island would hold back hiring. Island government is never going to understand how much these town employees cost us long after they’re retired and we’re still paying their benefits. The fact that they may be Eliminating 2 seasonal jobs will never make up for the difference. We are just lucky to have seasonal residents pay most of our taxes. But our senior year round residents are feeling the increase year after year.

  4. I would suggest that before anyone comments on the proposed SUP (unless you have experience), take a field trip to (God forbid) Nantucket then Central Sq in Cambridge. They are different SUP’s with the same goal..
    Nantucket has SUP’s all over their island and the overcrowding we could experience here exclaimed by some is nonexistent. I found people courteous and careful. Cambridge is a traffic doger that works too. In a collage town, the majority of cyclists are adult students that follow the law, common sense and the traffic..

    For me I prefer the SUP, and if you have young bicyclist I would prefer them on it too.

  5. Dear MV Times, these comments are not about the natural resources post. The above article covers many subjects.

  6. Natural Resource Officer, in any other state or jurisdiction might cause panic in poachers, fright in fishermen, and a scare in litterbugs everywhere. Then we come to Tisbury, some poor soul will be given the thankless job of answering to the harbor master-shellfish Constable-board of selectmen-GRANDE and have to deal with all the other duties… except for the really important one, the overuse and towns criminal behavior regarding wastewater. I just hope this future employee does not find anything like that going on, or they might get fired and not get the benefits Mr. Murphy is lamenting about in his comment above…

  7. Slow down on Franklin Street.
    If you have a straight away, cars with people of all ages will drive faster. A great deterrent is the raised sidewalk..! The only marked sidewalks we have now begin at Greenwood Street. If you place raised sidewalks out at Bernard Crcl, Bigalow, and a few more roads on that stretch you’ll see how fast cars/trucks/ mopeds/ bicycles will slow down or bottom out….!

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