Aquinnah has opened its heart and its parking spots to derby fishermen.

The Aquinnah selectmen on Friday voted at a hastily called special meeting to open resident-only parking lots to derby fisherman for the duration of the derby after learning that contestants have been avoiding Aquinnah fishing spots for several years because they feared tickets or tows.

Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain backed the decision. “We’ve been relaxed about it for several years. I’m fine with [the new derby parking rules].” he said. Board chairman Camille Rose noted that derby fishermen have always been welcome. “But if the perception was different then this rule amendment will go a long way to restate our reputation,” she said.

Suspension of resident-only parking through Oct. 13, the end of the derby, applies to all town beaches on a 24-hour basis with two exceptions: Philbin Beach and the big parking lot at the Cliffs will be open to all from 4 to 10 p.m. daily.

Vehicles are not permitted to drive on the beaches or to park on dunes or block access to driveways, Chief Belain noted. Town administrator Jeff Burgoyne estimated that 40 to 50 additional parking spots would be available including six diagonal spots at Lobsterville beach, four spots at West Basin, 10 to 15 spots near the Circle by the Cliffs, four spots at Red Beach and six spots at Herring Creek.

He urged parkers to be considerate and to avoid blocking other spaces.

Town accountant Marjorie Spitz had an additional suggestion. “Let’s cut town residents a little slack in the event the spots are full,” she said, adding: “Perhaps they could put their permits on the dashboard [to alert officers of their resident status in the event they need to park in a prohibited area].”

— Jack Shea