Make Town Vibrant Again

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Of the many important reasons to vote yes for beer and wine in Tisbury, I want to emphasize that the health of our business community is critical to the health of our entire town. It seems elitist to separate the needs and interests of our local merchants and businesses from those of our residents. We need a positive and interactive relationship that aims for balance.

It is clear to me that allowing our Tisbury restaurants to offer wine and beer will enable them to compete more successfully with eating establishments in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Aquinnah. Yet there is no reason to believe that the character and culture of Tisbury will change. Our town is unique for its beauty as well as its productivity, known to be both welcoming, year-round and hardy.

If anything, voting yes to beer and wine is choosing to support our businesses’ survival and success, which should improve our stability and continuity as an entire community. Tisbury deserves to be vibrant again.

Leslie D. Pearlson

Vineyard Haven

A More Worldly View

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a year-round resident of Vineyard Haven for more than 35 years, business owner, homeowner and the father of three daughters, I enthusiastically endorse the efforts of all those who support the licensing of beer and wine in the town of Tisbury. This initiative is long overdue and will have a positive influence on the town and help insure its commercial viability in the years ahead.

The vibrancy of Vineyard Haven would be greatly enhanced without the negative effects sometimes associated with towns that have bars and liquor stores. Restaurants are an essential element in the economy of the town (and Island), and serving beer and wine would provide much-needed revenue. Many voters have voiced their concerns about the noise and disruption that serving alcohol would cause, but I disagree. We are talking about restaurants, not open bars! Also, restaurants typically close much earlier and attract a very different clientele in general.

The Island has gradually become a more sophisticated community that attracts visitors from all over the world. I think recognition of this fact is important, and a more worldly view essential, as the Vineyard tries to compete for tourist revenue in an ever-changing environment.

Andrew A. Flake

Vineyard Haven

Aid to Quiet, Friendly

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing in support of the upcoming beer and wine resolution.

Having a glass of wine with dinner would in no way disrupt the quiet, friendly, residential character of this town. In fact, I think this resolution may help.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you just could walk downtown on a warm evening and have dinner with friends? Or you might run into someone you haven’t seen in awhile and decide to stay and share a meal together. Maybe it’s dinner and a movie. Or you could meet the relatives at the ferry and stay to have something to eat. Maybe the husbands would prefer to get a beer and a hamburger while the wives do some shopping. A friend gets an award, a colleague retires. There are hundreds of different variations of this.

This resolution is not about drinking, it’s about socializing. When a group of friends go out to dinner, they may like different items on the menu and they might order a glass of something different to go with it (one beer, one pinot, one cabernet, and an iced tea — coming up). They have a quiet evening talking about their lives, their families and what a wonderful place this is.

That’s basically what this resolution is about and I hope the community will vote yes.

Henry Stephenson

Vineyard Haven

No Real Obstacles

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

You’d never know it from all of the emotional rhetoric, but the beer and wine question facing Tisbury voters next Tuesday is a remarkably straightforward issue. The current reality in town is that people can go to restaurants and have a beer or bottle of wine with their meal. A yes vote on question one would mean that people would be able to go to a restaurant and have a beer or bottle of wine with their meal. If this sounds like there’s no difference between the before and the after, that would be right.

Except of course, the restaurateur would make a few extra bucks on the wine he or she would be allowed to provide. In addition, he or she would not be turning away summer visitors who head for Oak Bluffs or Edgartown when they find out that they cannot be served a glass of wine with dinner. Is this important? Sure it is. A measure which helps our business community in these difficult economic times and which is as innocuous as this one warrants serious consideration.

The argument most often heard from the measure’s opponents is the “slippery slope” or “camel’s nose under the tent” one. They say a yes vote on question one would result in further legislation culminating in bars, taverns, dance halls and liquor stores. Does anyone think that the recent town vote to fund the State Road-Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road connector road is going to result in a plethora of other connector roads all around town as well? Slippery slope may be sincere, but it just does not fly in the face of any factual evidence or precedent.

Then there is the fear factor. In the case of beer and wine in Tisbury, it goes something like this: Drunks rolling out of the restaurants, our children being exposed to such behavior, the character of the town under assault. Take a walk downtown some evening, especially in summer. The behavior you see now is the behavior you’re going to see (which is pretty benign). And that’s because, full circle, there would be no change in the availability or consumption of beer and wine in the restaurants.

Like I said, it’s a remarkably straightforward issue. I’m voting yes.

Jack Street

Vineyard Haven

More Lights On

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We live and work in Vineyard Haven, and we are in support of beer and wine. Legalizing the sale of beer and wine in the few Main street restaurants that apply and qualify will improve the quality of our community. Instead of becoming a ghost town at 5 p.m., perhaps some of my fellow shopkeepers will stay open a few more hours. With those hours, perhaps we will be able to hire staff or invest in our businesses. More lights on will enhance the community.

Plus, whenever an off-Island visitor invests a vacation dollar in Vineyard Haven and favors my store with a visit, I will not have to explain that only locals can enjoy a good meal and a glass of wine in my town, I will not have to tell them where to get the bus or taxi out of town and I will not have to watch that tourist dollar leave to be spent elsewhere.

We are proud to be open year-round and support the vitality of our town. Please support beer and wine.

Uta Kirchlechner and Doug Johnson

Vineyard Haven

Let’s Be Inclusive

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When I first moved to the Vineyard in the 1970s, Vineyard Haven was the year-round town where you saw your friends as you shopped. In order to keep Tisbury vibrant we need to keep it open year-round. We need to help keep it prosperous. We need to help keep the lights on. We should not be exclusive, we should be inclusive.

Please vote yes to beer and wine. There will be no change to the town we love, just the opportunity to keep it from declining. Please vote yes on Tuesday, April 27.

Daisy Kimberly

Vineyard Haven

Part of a Solution

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The town of Tisbury has so far weathered the storm of the economic downturn. Tisbury has managed to keep its strong bond rating to finance the emergency services facility at historic low interest rates. With the Tisburyfinance committee, wehave trimmed excesses and we continue to look toward the future of preserving the way oflife we havein Tisbury.

The Tisbury selectmen support theneed for future planning while understandingthe currentclimate, the larger economic outlook andthe sincere concerns that taxpayers andvoters have. There are those who question the current operation of certain restaurants in town in regards to t he sale of beer and wine. We must cast aside our concerns over how restaurants have operated, and focus on how they will operate with regulations in place. Wemust look toward the biggerpicture andthe positive ripple effect thatsupporting beer and winewill have within our community.

We have listened to the concerns, some of which we feel are unfounded. There is no need tohire additional police or town employees if this ballot questionpasses. Passage assures ahigh degree of regulation by both the local licensing authority and the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.The penalties and outcomes of violations ofthe law areclearly identifiedin Massachusetts general laws. Theperception is that Tisbury does not properly oversee our restaurants now and therefore the situation will only be worse with beer and wine. We believe the opposite. Having regulations in place will all ow us to better oversee the restaurants.

This is not a fatal experiment.  By passing beer and wine at the ballot, we believea more viable commercial district willevolve. But it’s not all about thecommercial tax base. It is all about the residential tax base and how we protect it. The best way to do thatis to make sure the commercial tax base has the tools to compete. The passage of beer and wine gives commercial properties an additional tool to compete and to create anatmosphere where businesses can flourish. Tisbury hasinherent limitations due toits commercially zoned landmass; thetown andthe Martha’s Vineyard Commission has wisely encouraged growth of new andexisting businesses whilemaintaining strong environmental andquality of lifeprotections. That will not changewith passage ofbeer and wine.

Businesses paydividends inemploying neighbors, friends andfamily, by creating jobs and paying for goods andservices. Businesses provide synergy fortown services by fundingimprovements tolocal infrastructure whenthey build orexpand; they also provide donationsto the schools and community programs.

We have seen a major decline on Main street. What was once a counted-on year-round business district is now a shell of itself, and we need to bring it back to life. Is beer and wine the be-all, end-all for Main street? Absolutely not. But is it a part of the greater solution? We believe so. We believe the time is right in Tisbury for the sale of beer and wine. We look forward to your vote, and we believe you can count on your town to provide a safe and regulated operation for the sale of beer and wine in Tisbury.

Jeff Kristal and Geoghan Coogan

Vineyard Haven

The writers are both Tisbury selectmen.