West Tisbury to add new crosswalks

Town employees granted special municipal employee status; Fine Fettle to make a donation for marijuana education. 

Plans for crosswalks on State Road, Panhandle Road, and Scotchman's Lane have been approved.

The West Tisbury select board unanimously approved a plan to place crosswalks at State Road, Panhandle Road, and Scotchman’s Lane during a Wednesday, July 27, meeting. 

According to West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand, the Complete Streets committee requested that the board send a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for a “variety of improvements,” one of which were crosswalks.

“The state actually has agreed to go forward with that, but they want to hear that the town remains in favor of this,” Rand said. 

At the request of board chair Cynthia Mitchell, Rand gave a rundown of the plan. 

“The intent is to have crosswalks at each of the intersections of Scotchman’s and Panhandle, plus on State,” Rand said. Although there are no sidewalks in the area, there are bus stops in the area that are used, particularly during the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair. “This would allow someone to get off the bus and safely pass over to get either to the Ag Society property or over to Scotchman’s to walk up in that direction to get to Old County [Road].”

“These look like standard [crosswalks] with visually impaired pads, like the state always puts in and requires,” Jane Rossi, the staff contact for the Complete Streets committee, added. “We’re quite thrilled to see this happening.”

There was time for the board to ask a few questions, such as whether stop signs can be moved to be more visible, and if additional signage can be added to State Road, which has a higher speed limit than Panhandle Road and Scotchman’s Lane.

“I’m amazed the state is being so cooperative with all this,” board member Skipper Manter said. “You try to move a speed sign five feet, but that’s no good.”

When Mitchell asked whether any work on the crosswalks can be done before the fair, which starts on August 18, Rand said, “There’s no work allowed on State Road until after Labor Day.” 

In other business, the board voted 2-1 to approve Ms. Foundation for Women’s one-day beer and wine license for an event at Grange Hall on Tuesday, August 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Manter was the sole dissenting vote, citing the need to change zoning bylaws. 

The board unanimously approved the following town employees to be granted special municipal employee status, which the State Ethics Commission defines as designated to unpaid positions, part-time positions, or positions not paid for more than 800 working hours. These employees are Erik Lowe, Matt Gebo, Janice Haynes, Katherine Logue, Maria McFarland, Russell Hartenstine, Jesse Oliver, and Bruce Stone. A separate vote was made to approve board member Jessica Miller’s reception of this status, in which she abstained from voting. 

The board unanimously voted that the town will not be the monitoring agency for Island Cohousing. The town has a “right of first refusal,” but the West Tisbury affordable housing committee made a recommendation not to take on the extra responsibility. The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority will look for another organization to do this work, such as the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. 

The board gave the green light for Rand to sign off on Fine Fettle’s request to make a donation. Fine Fettle’s host agreement requires when it is giving a donation to gain the town’s approval on whether the recipients are appropriate. The donation was made to Vineyard House and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services for “the education of safe, legal, and responsible use of marijuana.” Although a specific amount was not shared, Fine Fettle is planning to donate at least a total of $5,000. 

The select board unanimously approved West Tisbury building inspector Joseph Tierney to be allowed access to town counsel for an upcoming zoning board of appeals meeting. Manter said during hearings where people appealed Tierney’s decision to the zoning board, he usually hasn’t shown up.