I’d like to address question one on the ballot for Tisbury’s election day, May 9, which would allow restaurants to expand their alcoholic offerings to include hard liquor.

On the face of it, this is an easy one. For the last six years, beer and wine have been served at most restaurants in Vineyard Haven with no obvious detrimental impact noticed by the public or the police department. At last year’s town meeting we agreed to allow restaurants to add the sale of hard liquor to the menu. After review by the state, the question is being returned to us for a final paper vote on the ballot on May 9. Easy, right? Why not allow restaurants to expand their offerings, especially if it improves their bottom line, encourages people to have their drinks and meals in Vineyard Haven, and brings in a little more tax money? Proponents of question one suggest there may be a vibrant food scene coming to Main street, if only they could add hard liquor to the menu. This is the same argument we heard in 2010. If only we would allow beer and wine to be consumed, people would not go to other towns to eat. Now, I would hope that people are looking for good food in Vineyard Haven, not a place to drink. When hard liquor is offered, there has to be both a separate bar and a bartender to make the drinks. (There is no such need for beer and wine.) Once these new requirements are met, the owner will logically conclude that they must sell more drinks to justify the additional expenses. How are we going to monitor this? Will we need more law enforcement? Who pays for that? Hard drinking is not the type of vibrancy we need in Vineyard Haven.

The voters of Tisbury need to ask ourselves a couple of questions before voting. Will our everyday businesses, that are important to the day to day vitality of our downtown, gradually move away from Main street and be replaced by businesses that cater to the tourist because of an expanded food and alcohol scene? We have lost our Main street post office, a grocery store, a drugstore, and a hardware store, among others. All have been replaced with shops and restaurants. Do we want this to continue? What is more desirable, a trendy restaurant/drinking scene, or a vitally centered downtown that takes care of our and our guests’ daily needs in a safe, walkable neighborhood?

The voters of Tisbury will decide on May 9. Please vote no on question one. It’s your neighborhood.

Marie Laursen
Vineyard Haven