Aquinnah is considering converting a section of 9 Aquinnah Circle into additional parking for the Aquinnah Cliffs area.
“Obviously, parking up at the Cliffs remains a challenge, even though we’ve gone ahead … and added an additional 10 spots down where the residents’ parking was, below the restrooms,” Aquinnah select board member Tom Murphy said during a Tuesday afternoon select board meeting.
According to Murphy, the “squared area” in front of 9 Aquinnah Circle has the space to temporarily provide additional parking.
“Until that property is used, we can generate about 15 parking spaces by removing that squared, grassy area from in front of No. 9,” Murphy said. “[Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison] thought it was a pretty good idea; I think [board member Gary Haley] believed as well. I spoke to [Aquinnah highway supervisor and groundskeeper Jay Smalley]. He said there would be nothing to removing those four boards and putting some gravel down.”
When Haley asked whether this parking would be for residents, Murphy said, “A few could be reserved for residents.” Murphy added that nine parking spots below the restrooms were already reserved for residents. “I just think it’s open space right in front of us we’re not utilizing when we have a parking problem, especially in the summer months,” Murphy said.
Board chair Juli Vanderhoop said she “would like to see a plan” before making a decision.
“I think it’s a good idea,” she said, adding that she wants to make sure “we’re not blocking the driveway to the condos, and that there would be a barrier of some kind to keep things a little bit separated.”
Aquinnah planning board member Isaac Taylor pointed out that the additional parking “would increase the traffic flow as it went around the loop.”
“I think we should consider using — from that parking lot down the hill toward State Road, not around the loop — I think that there’s a possibility that it could become two-way right there, so that the traffic that’s up there can exit down Lighthouse Road,” he said, potentially alleviating congestion.
Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain felt 15 additional parking spaces “may be a little ambitious,” but was not in favor of the two-way road idea.
“That would be way too confusing, I think, entering that intersection. I think we’re just opening ourselves to problems,” he said.
The property at 9 Aquinnah Circle was planned to be awarded to a food establishment bid in February after undergoing a request for proposals (RFP) period, but a lack of input from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) during the process caused contention. In April, after hearing from the community, the board unanimously approved reissuing the RFP with representatives from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and Aquinnah Cultural Center included in the process.
When The Times asked whether input would be requested from the tribe regarding the parking spaces, Vanderhoop said after an initial plan is seen, it will be run by the Aquinnah Cultural District committee.
“There are also tribal representatives on that,” Vanderhoop said. “I think it behooves us all to move this into a planning stage of some sort.”
In other news, the board was against creating an edge lane road, a type of shared-use road where pedestrian and cyclist easements are painted on both sides of the road, at Lobsterville Road or West Basin Road, because of the costs. Murphy said that the anticipated costs shared by Martha’s Vineyard Commission special projects planner were $40,000. The board was in favor of the idea itself, and was open to finding another way to fund the project. No vote was taken on this matter.
The Aquinnah Cliff lot leases for individual business owners at the Cliffs are ready and available at Aquinnah town hall. Murphy, who has been working on the leases for business owners who deal directly with the town, will continue working with the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on the leases some business owners receive through them.
“If there are any questions, the town is very happy to look into any additional changes that might be requested,” Murphy said.
The board unanimously approved Eversource’s request to put down an underground conduit at Old South Road.