Aquinnah select board prepares for parking changes

Wampanoag council member pursues increased cooperation; police vehicle moved to fire department.

The Aquinnah select board deliberating the meeting's topics. — Eunki Seonwoo

A parking lot near Aquinnah Circle will be equipped with an electronic park-and-pay machine to boost revenue from the lot.

The Aquinnah select board unanimously approved the recommendation to install the machine made by the Aquinnah parking committee during a Tuesday evening meeting. Aquinnah select board member Tom Murphy abstained from voting because he was a part of making the committee’s recommendations. 

The park-and-pay machine, which would be monitored by the police, would allow Aquinnah to bring in parking revenue from April to May alongside the summer months, when an attendant manages the parking. Murphy said the machine would cost about $15,000. 

“That parking lot brought in $200,000 in revenue last year,” Murphy said. “We think that adding this can substantially increase that number.”

Aquinnah select board chair Gary Haley suggested buying two machines in case one of them malfunctions. Murphy agreed that would be a good idea. 

Two more recommendations were also made by the committee. The committee recommended increasing the free parking time at Aquinnah Circle from one hour to 90 minutes. The committee thinks this is a reasonable amount of time to give visitors to “shop, eat, visit the Aquinnah cultural center, and the lighthouse.” 

A third recommendation made by the committee is to paint additional parking stripes in the area near the restrooms. 

“Down by the restroom, there’s currently, I think, 10 parking spots for residents, and there’s another long section of pavement that’s unstriped. We can simply add 10 more spots by striping that area,” Murphy said. “This is a start.”

The additional parking spots will help Aquinnah meet the demand of people, as more lots come into operation. 

“Jason Widdis’ lot, the first building on the right as you go up the stairs, has been purchased and will be put into operation this year. The Orange Peel facility has also been purchased by the Smalley family, and that will be put into operation,” Murphy said. “We received three responses to our requests for proposals of the Manning house today; two of them are for food service.”

In other business, the board unanimously appointed Kathy Olsen to the board of registrars and reappointed Katherine Newman to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as the Aquinnah representative.

The board unanimously approved Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain’s request to give a 2014 Ford Interceptor cruiser to the Aquinnah Fire Department. This would allow the fire department to replace its 2010 Ford Explorer, one of the two vehicles it owns. 

The board decided to delay the discussion about the Roddy land donation, which is to the right of Philbin Beach parking lot. Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison said he was in touch with town counsel Ron Rappaport. However, Rappaport has not sent a response yet, so Madison suggested waiting. 

Another group waiting for an answer is the Aquinnah housing committee. The committee presented a land disposition agreement to use two lots for affordable rental housing, to be built by Island Housing Trust: one behind the fire station, and the other behind the town hall. Madison gave the agreement to town counsel, but has not received an answer back yet. Madison said he was concerned the language in it would prevent the town from using the remainder of the land for other uses, such as conservation. 

“I can agree that you want to get everything worked out so you are all comfortable, but time should be held to a reasonable minimum as possible,” housing committee chair Mike Hebert said. “Every day we push back is another day people are going without housing that they need.” 

“We’ll move this thing along. I will personally take the responsibility to move this along,” Madison said, although there was still more that needed to be done before a decision was made. 

The Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank updated the select board on changes made to the warrant article for a housing bank. The changes were made after discussions in Edgartown and West Tisbury. After hearing changes made in the warrant article, the board unanimously supported keeping the item on the warrant. 

Newly elected Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head council member Kevin Devine also attended the meeting, stating he hopes to “rebuild a relationship” between the tribe and the town. Devine said he wants the two entities to work together as a community.


  1. Whaaaat ? $ 30.00 to park in a dusty lot is already outrageous and approaching Manhattan parking prices. To further fleece our tourist and down island population
    with ‘increases” borders on userous and certainly is unconscionable.
    Is the Select-board also considering parking meters on the Aquinnah circle ?
    How about a per person “tax” collected upon exiting the arriving summer Tourist buses and before visiting the cliff shops and restaurant ?
    Let’s do everything we can to pluck the feathers off the golden goose that supports Aquinnah.

  2. Too bad the Island is becoming a real ripoff. Glad I moved off Island when I did in 04. I have good memories of living and working there.

  3. There are NO pay toilet fees or pay metered parking at the Aquinnah circle shop area. It’s free 90 minute parking while shopping, eating, enjoying the overlook, the park or lighthouse areas. There is a daily fee for parking at the large beach lot area only.

    • Maybe they toilets at the bottom of the circle are free now, but they haven’t always been. And, yes, I know parking on the circle is free, but if you want to spend more then and hour at the cliffs, or walk to the beach, you have to pay.

    • Gary, you are missing the point. If the town is ripping off the visitors in one area (dusty, bumpy parking lot) Why not go for the Trifecta and meter the circle parking and install coin or credit card admittance to the decrepit latrines ?
      And, come to think of it, how about charging a fee to throw a frisbee or fly a kite on the sloped grassy area in front of the circle shops ?

    • You’re a selectman and you don’t even know the rules in town. The circle parking is 60 minutes currently not 90. It was recommended to change to 90 but the BOS did not approve this yet, correct? Why am I asking you, you have no idea.

  4. I would love to see the other towns of MV band together and passes a law that every vehicle registered in Aquinnah be required to purchase a yearly $5,000 parking sticker if they want to park anywhere on MV other than Aquinnah. It’s a fantasy but it sure would be fun.

  5. Mostly unbridled commercialization and greed have destroyed much of what, at one time, made the lsland and especially GH, about as close to paradise as any of us were fortunate enough to have ever experienced. Sadly, for those of us old enough to remember the old GH Inn, later Museum and the days before the arrival of those monstrous off lsland tour buses, T shirt and curio shops, ridiculously unregulated and lethal mopeds, petty squabbles over minutiae in home design and the obscene monetization of almost other every facet of lsland life, despite superficial similarities to its former beauty, what remains underneath is almost unrecognizable. As a result, for many of us, it’s no longer worth the emotional distress and extraordinary financial burden to continue living there, along with inconvenience of being forced to observe and participate in it.

    That’s why we have left. Since the process of decay has taken over fifty years to reach its current state, many other longtime residents still cannot or will not recognize or acknowledge the magnitude of the profoundly diminished quality of life. Those fellow “old timers” and friends who know and grew up with me will probably recognize me from the tone of this message. Despite my screen name and former occupation, l am no relation the infamous captain of HMS “Bounty.”

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