West Tisbury proposes Island-wide forum

State Sen. Julian Cyr, left, and state Rep. Dylan Fernandes continue to get pushback for legislation aimed at the Steamship Authority. -MV Times

The West Tisbury select board met on Wednesday to discuss the need for an Island-wide gathering in regard to legislative proposals that have been made without full or effective communication among the six Vineyard towns.
West Tisbury’s select board is the latest committee to express concerns regarding a bill that was filed by state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, and state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, which seeks to add a chief operating officer (COO) to the Steamship Authority administration, in addition to establishing term limits on all SSA board members.
The SSA board voted recently to add a COO, and Fernandes told the Dukes County Commission that he would remove that from the bill.
Echoing opinions that were expressed at the commission meeting on March 15, West Tisbury select board chair Skipper Manter said his concerns are “not necessarily with what they were trying to accomplish or attempt to change, but the process by which it was done.”
The filing of the bill was a “behind-the-scenes, closed-door operation,” said Manter. “I don’t think anyone on the Vineyard knew about it, or Nantucket for that matter, until after the bill was filed. I think there many have been some phone calls made the night before, trying to tell some county commissioners what was going on, but certainly I don’t feel, and I think a lot of other people don’t feel, this is any way for our representatives or senators to conduct business that involves something like the SSA, without consulting the two islands ahead of time and getting their input to see what they think is best.”
On how to remedy the lack of communication, and in the spirit of transparency, Manter said, “I think it would be important for the Island to have some sort of forum where we can all vent or speak or discuss ways, not just in the past but going forward, how we might do this a little better.”
Town administrator Jennifer Rand also advocated for an Island-wide forum.
The select board approved forwarding the request to the Dukes County Commission. Rand noted the importance of collaboration, saying that it would be useful for the DCC, as an Island-wide entity that also has “the appointing authority of our SSA governor,” to put together this forum for the six towns, allowing everyone to be part of the discussion.
“And hopefully our legislators will be present,” Rand added.


    • Trey– I appreciate your dedication to an idea that you think is a good one, and your willingness to publicly advocate for it.
      I am sure some people will think it’s a crazy “pie in the sky” kind of idea, and they will criticize you for it. I know about that, as I have been advocating for the steamship to transition to electrically powered ferries. There are many obstacles impeding the realization of my dream to sit on an electrically powered ferry. I hope I live long enough to experience that.
      There are also many obstacles to achieve your dream of being on a fast ferry.

      I think that the authorities within the steamship authority read stuff like this, and I encourage you to continue to advocate for your cause– it is a good one. They may seem to not care less about public opinion, but it has to weigh on them.

      So my suggestion to you is to take a good look at what the obstacles are and think of ways to mitigate those obstacles. Just a few that I can think of ; no slips available, if people take the fast ferry, they are not paying to go on the slow ferry. If the authority spends the money for a fast ferry but loses revenue on the slow ferry, where is the profit motive? And given what we see about the pricing of fast ferries, how many people are going to pay 4 or 5 times the price to get to the Vineyard in half the time?
      Again, please don’t think I am criticizing you or your ideas.
      Quite the opposite.

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