On Tuesday evening Tisbury selectmen unanimously approved a redesign proposal for the town-owned parking lot adjacent to the Stop & Shop building.
The parking lot had become a sticking point during earlier Martha’s Vineyard Commission hearings on the Stop & Shop proposal to replace its existing space with a two-story building containing a grocery store and parking garage. Though not part of the proposal itself, the cost of redesigning the parking lot would impact the overall financial mitigation package Stop & Shop plans to offer the town.
Selectmen formed an advisory committee to study the parking lot in October. After a public discussion session in January, when three redesign plans were presented to the town, the committee reorganized, adding facilitator Cheryl Doble to the proceedings, and began meeting regularly to hammer out a final proposal.
The proposal before the selectmen on Tuesday was approved by seven of the eight committee members, with one abstention.
Committee chair and town administrator John (Jay) Grande told the board that a final detailed report would be presented in April.
The redesign is similar to one presented at the public discussion session by advisory committee member and Tisbury planning board chairman Henry Stephenson. It features 64 parking spaces set at 90 degrees, rather than the current angled setup. The three parking lanes allow for two-way traffic.
Other elements from the previous plan include leaving Norton Lane open to one-way traffic and constructing shared use pathways for cyclists and pedestrians on the perimeters of the lot.
One of main concerns of the committee was incorporating more landscaping into the lot, which is one of the first things people see upon exiting the Steamship Authority terminal across the street. The landscape buffer along Water street has been increased considerably, to more than double its current width.
“We are looking for at least 10 to 15 feet of trees, bushes, street furniture, benches and bicycle accommodations,” Mr. Grande said.
He noted that landscaping, including foundation planting and street trees, would also be used from Water street up to Cromwell Lane to balance the mass of the planned Stop & Shop building.
The multi-use paths are approximately 10 feet wide and located on the north and west sides of the lot.
“This will enable us to link the ferry terminal and exit, and create a more defined pathway up to Main street through this parking field,” Mr. Grande said.
In earlier discussions, the town restroom building at the south end of the lot was a source of concern, with some plans calling for its removal and others for relocating it. The new proposal keeps the building in the same location but includes a renovation plan that moves the entrance so it faces Main street. Leaving the building creates a focal point for pedestrians, committee member Hyung Lee said, and re-orienting the entrance enhances the link to Main street.
Moving the entrance also allows for better circulation in the lot.
“One of the things has been that the parking bays were substandard widths, and they were expanded,” Henry Stephenson said. “When we did that we moved the west bay closer to the comfort station, and in the process it simplified the turning for the [Stop & Shop] trucks.”
The committee would also like to see utilities moved underground and a stormwater management system incorporated into the lot.
Representatives from Stop & Shop attended the selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday. Stop & Shop representatives also sat in on advisory committee meetings, but were not voting members.
“This iteration of the plan we can support, we do support,” Stop & Shop legal representative Geoghan Coogan said. “For us, it was really getting to a plan so that we could move forward.”
“There are details to keep ironing out and funding that we still have to deal with, but we’re at the point where we’re happy with the plan,” he said.
Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel said the plan was a great working template.
“If the [Stop & Shop] project gets approved as we go forward with this plan, we will have chapter two in the discussions about this,” he said.
“I would like to thank everyone who spent an inordinate amount of time on this,” selectman Jonathan Snyder said. “It’s difficult to come to a consensus on something that involves so many moving pieces.”