Think Again

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On April 15, the voters of Tisbury will go to the polls to vote on a proposal to allow the selectmen to license the sale of beer and wine in establishments around our town. If you think that this proposal concerns what beverage you may drink with your meals, think again. This is about real estate and community.

Check the ads in the real estate guides. One states openly that the value of a property will increase with the passage of this proposal. Another is more subtle. And so it goes. May I remind you that we are the voters of Tisbury, not the owners of the properties and businesses.

Most of us moved to Tisbury because we liked the atmosphere of this year-round town: Main street, with its gabled buildings set at angles to the sidewalk, the benches and spaces where we get a view of the harbor. When I first came here, there was a thriving dry goods store, a grocery and a hardware store, a barber, shoe store, even a thrift store. Since they closed, their spaces have been taken by a succession of tourist trinket shops.

We, the taxpayers of Tisbury, have recently invested in a sewer system for the downtown. We have made other improvements, too, to Main street and the downtown. Very little has changed among the businesses.

Now we are asked to allow the selectmen to license establishments to sell beer and wine. The town committee on beer and wine has shown that the only beneficiaries will be the restaurants that sell them. And, if the ads are correct, the owners who sell their property for a higher price. The profits, if any, will go to the owners, not to the town.

We still have a unique and charming downtown for hanging out, even if there is little to buy. Let’s defeat this proposal and hope that the owners will, at last, put in the necessary toilet facilities and provide the year-round goods and services that we need.

Please take a walk down Main street and think about your needs. Then go to the polls on April 15 and vote. Thank you.

Mary H. Snyder

Vineyard Haven

Keep Our Advantage

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are going to vote no on Question 4 on April 15 because we believe that permitting wine and beer sales in restaurants has a better chance of having a negative effect rather than a positive one. The only positive we can think of would be from the perspective of a few restaurant owners whose profits would increase, and while this may be desirable for them, it will not counterbalance the negative impact on the character of the town for the rest of us.

We agree that our town’s commercial district can be improved, but increased profits won’t cause such improvement. One would think that the business community would be organized well enough to support strongly efforts to make our town more attractive to visitors. Henry Stephenson’s work concerning the waterfront, Beach street, Veterans Park, upper Main street and State Road come to mind but we have not seen any organized attempt by the business community to bring that work to fruition. The ideas expressed by Nat and Pam Benjamin in their recent letter on this subject also deserve serious consideration and support.

We enjoy a glass of wine or two with our meals when we eat out. We enjoy it most when we know we will like the wine and we know that we can afford it. That happens far more often when BYOB is in effect. One of the impacts on us of allowing wine and beer sales may well be that we will eat out less and in particular eat out less in Vineyard Haven because, from our point of view, there will be no particular advantage there for us to do so.

We do not know whether passing Question 4 would be the top of the proverbial slippery slope, but we are unwilling to take the risk that we will soon end up with bars and retail sales, for that would certainly change the character of our town. Character may be difficult to define, but we do not want to see Vineyard Haven turn into another Oak Bluffs or Edgartown. We’d rather have it remain as it is.

Finally, there is a culture of enforcement in our town which suggests that the 65 per cent requirement of food to beverage will be difficult to monitor adequately. It could also be that only a slight change in the makeup of our board of selectmen might make disciplined enforcement even less likely to occur. This is another risk we are unwilling to take.

Please join us in voting no on April 15.

Ned and Ellen Orleans

Vineyard Haven

Not Prohibition

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Be careful what you vote for!

According to House bill number 4194, section 1, lines 18 through 20: “The board of selectmen may from time to time issue regulations for granting of such licences and to define terms appropriate to carrying out the provisions of this act.”

Once the door is open we may have more than what we were voting for.

BYOB is not prohibition.

Mary Ellen Larsen

Vineyard Haven

Young Viewpoint

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My name is Caroline King and I am nine years old. I have been coming to Vineyard Haven for nine summers. I always look forward to walking downtown with my friends.

My mom would never let me walk downtown in the summer if they sold beer or alcohol, so I would have nothing to look forward to except seeing my family or my friend Lucy Norris.

So please don’t let them sell alchohol.

Caroline B. King

Sarotoga, Calif.

Leave Things As Is

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are writing to enter respectfully the debate on the so-called wine and beer issue. We try to be understanding of all sides of the proposition, but come away still feeling strongly that we should basically let well enough alone.

We have observed a considerable number of communities where they gradually let the gate open and the overall effect was not positive. Crime does increase, personal security of citizens is threatened, noise levels in commercial areas rise annoyingly and the general tone of the community does change, and not for the better.

As we have pointed out before, an obvious example of the situation is the New Jersey resort of Ocean City which is today virtually the only resort on the Jersey coast where one would want to live or raise a family — and when all is said and done the reason is that somehow amidst political upheavals and changes of trends they have remained a dry community these 150 years and are proud of it.

We find it hard to believe that income levels of eating establishments would rise significantly if the restrictions on beer and wine were eased.

Please, Vineyard Haven, think long and hard before going down a road we will soon enough regret.

John and Jane Wilbur

Vineyard Haven