Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I wonder how many West Tisbury residents secretly wish they lived in an uptight, sterile, gated community someplace? Not a lot, I’m guessing. Yet the current pressure to hem us in with a new raft of unnecessary regulations seems to come straight from such a milieu.
I left the West Tisbury town meeting this year with a very warm glow. Neighbors with very different and strongly-held views about dogs on Lambert’s Cove beach in the summer months had put their cases and the people of our town had voted, reaching what seemed to me to be the essence of a well-crafted compromise. Neither side got all of what it wanted, but each side got something. The dog walkers could use the beach for a few hours in the morning, but lost their long enjoyed right to evening hours. Folks troubled by dogs on the beach could arrive at 10 a.m. and stay until dark, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t encounter a canine. It was, I thought, my town at its remarkable best: civil, considerate, tolerant and above all commonsensical.
Now we’re being called back for yet another meeting, and the stakes are no longer just dogs on the beach, but a whole slew of proposed new laws that would, among other things, make it illegal to have a dog off leash in West Tisbury anywhere, at any time. That includes the miles of woodland trails I walk almost daily, rarely, if ever, encountering another soul, human or canine. What’s going on here? Does anyone really think such a law, if passed, would be observed? Or are we now going to need a meeting to discuss paying for dog wardens in the deep woods? To pass laws destined for disregard (and impossible to enforce) is to bring the law itself into ridicule and disrepute. If there is an unruly dog, we already have laws designed to deal with that, which state the dog has to be under voice control. If that law isn’t enforceable, how will a leash law be any different?
Please, fellow townsfolk, let’s just do things the old West Tisbury way, with consideration, civility, a bit of tolerance and a big dollop of common sense.