W.T. acreage set aside for affordable housing 

Voters back Tiah’s Cove Road culvert, Juneteenth now a town holiday.


West Tisbury voters convened at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs for the third time since the start of the pandemic, and handily surpassed a 30-person quorum for 2021 annual town meeting. 

Town clerk Tara Whiting-Wells said the count topped off at 217 registered voters.

By far the most time-consuming and contentious item on the warrant was a transfer of town-owned property at 401 State Road to the affordable housing committee to “sell, ground lease, or otherwise dispose of” for the purpose of affordable housing. Town moderator Dan Waters designated one microphone in favor and one microphone against. Queues formed at both. The line in favor was longer.

Susan Silk told voters affordable housing was needed now more than ever, and asked for approval of the article. Former longtime conservation committee member Prudy Burt questioned whether a protective area around an adjacent well hampered the area’s development potential. John Abrams, who said he consulted someone who had studied the land, said well encroachment wasn’t an issue. Nikki Patton, who described herself as a renter who wasn’t likely to own a house, and was sympathetic to the cause of affordable housing, evoked land regulation in the Tuscany region of Italy. She said the strictness has preserved the beauty of the region. With that in mind, she said she could not back something that ran the risk of harming the beauty of West Tisbury.

Laura Silber, campaign coordinator for the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank, said she’s seen what happens to other places like the Vineyard where housing has become unbalanced, and stressed time was of the essence to act. Debate continued after a motion to end discussion on the article was shut down by voters. Several further arguments voiced against the article revolved around the land being in the gateway area of the town, and therefore against the area’s rural character. 

Several people stressed the urgency of the housing crisis on the Vineyard. The article ultimately passed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Voters said yes to $100,000 worth of repairs to the Tiah’s Cove Road culvert. Conservation commission administrator Maria McFarland spoke in favor of the article, and planning board member Matt Merry questioned the cost. Highway superintendent Richard Olsen described the culvert as in a partial state of disrepair. Amelia Smith said she used to shimmy through the culvert as a kid, but it has become too constricted for her kids to do the same. The article survived a vote to postpone it indefinitely, and was approved by a majority vote. 

Voters also said yes to town observance of Juneteenth. In a one-article special town meeting held just before the annual town meeting, voters said yes to changing the selectmen’s name to the select board.

Selectman Skipper Manter paid tribute to outgoing Fire Chief Manuel Estrella III. Waters read aloud the West Tisbury citizens who passed away in the last year to honor them, including John Alley. The town report was dedicated to him.


  1. Everyone has a mask on. Outside! Quite comical coming from FL where we’ve had NO mask mandate and have been fully open since….since the whole time. FL is a case study no one can or should ignore whether you PERSONALLY agree or not ” follow the science”

    • MR, Kennan– Florida is currently having twice as many deaths per capita from covid than Mass. (look at the 7 day average)
      Them’s the facts—

    • Not sure what point you’re trying to make. Could you explain for those of us in the back row?

    • The “Florida Man” stereotype is pretty accurate. What can one expect from a state that elects the likes of Matt Gaetz and Ron Desantis?

    • What is really comical is Florida man telling the Island how to manage Covid.
      Florida tried to ignore it, so many died.
      Should we also be following Florida’s lead when it comes to Senators doing naughty things with teenage girls’?

  2. You’ve made that statement before.
    I am kinda curious how NOT following the “science” presented and suggested to the rest of the country is superior.
    And PERSONALLY, I think there are a lot of things about FL that would qualify for a case study of some sort. However, regardless of whatever may be viewed as comical, I will remain a cautiously optimistic New Englander (by way of NJ) with a mask on.

  3. Affordable housing is as important currently as any other concern.
    We need to move forward and make it happen.

Comments are closed.