Restoration of Spring Building Earns Vineyard Haven Support

By ALEXIS TONTI

Tisbury voters dispatched with special town meeting in one hour Tuesday night, endorsing the creation of a town dog park, the restoration of the historic Tashmoo Spring building and the development of a comprehensive energy plan for the Island.

A bare quorum of about 100 residents came to the meeting, which was held in the Tisbury School gymnasium. The night was marked by little discussion, and voters passed all 12 of the non-appropriating articles on the warrant. Town moderator Deborah Medders took the podium just 10 minutes past the scheduled 7:30 starting time.

The only hitch in the evening came during debate over a plan to lease town-owned land, formerly the septage lagoons, as storage space for commercial vehicles.

\"As we all know we have this land, and we can\'t build on it, we can\'t do much of anything on it except maintain it,\" selectman Tom Pachico said. \"We thought we could kill a few birds with one stone: get some revenue for the town, and get some trucks moved out of residential areas.\"

Resident Jim Norton then stepped to the microphone with a few legal questions on the issue.

\"This is a parcel that has a history to it,\" Mr. Norton said, explaining the land was donated to the town by Ellis Manter and that its use is restricted by the terms set in a probate court decree more than 30 years ago. \"Has that guiding action been looked at?\" he asked.

Discussion circled around the issue for awhile, and the warrant article was tweaked to make it conditional on compliance with all applicable laws.

But the change was not sufficient for some residents, and the meeting stalled as debate began on a second amendment.

Then planning board chairman Tony Peak added his voice to the mix. He stressed that the salient point under consideration was whether residents endorsed the plan to lease the land, adding: \"The selectmen have shown a willingness to explore this thoroughly, and I will add to the selectmen\'s assurances the planning board\'s assurances that we will all look into this thoroughly and not do anything that is not legal.\"

The article passed.

In connection with the leasing plan, voters approved a change to zoning bylaws to allow the storage of privately owned equipment on municipal property.

Residents then paved the way for the creation of a town-run dog park with a change to the town leash laws.

\"This idea came after a selectmen\'s meeting, when we were dealing with problems with dogs running loose at Owen Park and at the beach,\" selectman Tristan Israel said. \"This would not be a Trade Winds, which is owned by the land bank and not regulated by the town [Oak Bluffs].\"

Mr. Israel noted that the bylaw change is only the first step. The town still has to identify an appropriate site, draft rules for the park and hold a public hearing.

The article in support of the effort to restore the Tashmoo Spring building came toward the end of the meeting. The 19th-century brick structure sits on the edge of Chappaquonsett Pond - at one end of Lake Tashmoo - and served as the hub of the first waterworks system on the Island.

\"The deterioration of this building has been brought to your attention before,\" said Mr. Israel. \"Time has passed, and the deterioration has continued, but a committee has been formed to come up with creative ways to save the building and to use it.

\"[Approving this article] will show there is a will of the community to save the building, and it will be helpful as we go forward and try to secure grants,\" Mr. Israel added.

Planning board member Henry Stephenson spoke briefly.

\"In the past there have been concerns that the cost of restoration would be prohibitive, and it was estimated as high as three million dollars. But more recently experts have put the cost at less than one million dollars, maybe around $800,000,\" he said.

Residents also took up a number of routine housekeeping articles and endorsed the Islandwide energy resolution, which appears on the warrants in every Vineyard town. The resolution calls for the development and implementation of a comprehensive energy plan for the Island.