I am deeply concerned about the possibility of having hard alcohol in the restaurants, inns and hotels in Tisbury. We love our beautiful town and have lived here for 45 years. Our youngest daughter was born at home in Tisbury. We have two daughters, sons in law and six grandchildren who all love and live on Martha’s Vineyard. I have a nonprofit creative arts, socially and environmentally conscious organization that educates and nurtures young people and I have a passionate heartfelt interest in their well being. I would like young people to continue to enjoy the sailing programs and be able to walk or ride their bikes into Vineyard Haven to attend a movie or buy an ice cream cone without fearing for their safety.

Is serving hard alcohol in restaurants going to magically increase the economic well-being of the town of Tisbury?

• The business area of Vineyard Haven stretches from Crane Appliance to the west and Wind’s Up to the east. So if you have numerous rental spaces, you are bound to have some empty storefronts.

• Hard alcohol is going to be served with a meal. How many drinks are customers allowed to have? At this time there are no regulations in place.

• If the vote passes to sell hard alcohol, restaurants will have to hire a mixologist (bartender) and a place to store all the bottles in a way that they will be easily accessed, and a mixing area (bar). After they have invested in this expensive process, it seems likely that it will only be a matter of time before they will be back pressuring the town to vote for bars and package stores.

• Do you think that the restaurant owners have future plans and this is just one step in the process of getting to bars, and package stores? Seven years ago, a friend of ours who worked for one of the restaurants that has since closed, said the owners told him that they were not sure that campaigning for beer and wine was worth it, because they really wanted full service bars.

• Seven years ago when the issue of selling alcohol in restaurants in Tisbury came up, the proponents begged to have beer and wine and swore that they would not come back later and ask for hard alcohol. Shortly after the law passed, six restaurants either sold their business or closed for various reasons: Zephrus, Moxie, Saltwater, Mediterranean, Nicky’s and Le Grenier. The restaurants that do not serve alcohol are all still open. The formula for success in the restaurant business is good food at fair prices. Now five years has gone by and some of the same people are back again asking for hard alcohol.

• A hotel owner recently said that when people come and find out that they do not serve hard alcohol, they go to Oak Bluffs. That might be true for a few people, but if that was their sole interest they would not be coming to Martha’s Vineyard. People visit the Vineyard for its true qualities, beautiful beaches, nature, peace and tranquility.

At the recent Chilmark town meeting where they were voting on whether to change the town to become wet, some of the residents who got up to speak brought up the pending vote in Vineyard Haven and how they did not want alcohol creep to invade their town.

What is the definition of the economic well-being of a town? When we are promoting and developing our town it is in the best interests of the residents and business community to focus on core strengths and long-term sustainability.

What are Tisbury’s core strengths? Tisbury is the main harbor and gateway to our Island. We will soon have the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and its maritime heritage exhibits. Tisbury has many attractions: the harbor, the Shenandoah and Alabama programs for young people, visiting boats, the sailing and windsurfing programs, Tall Ships, the Vineyard Playhouse, art galleries, the amphitheatre, historic churches, Lake Tashmoo, the overlook and the waterworks, the designated historic district of William street, Memorial Park, Owen Park and the bandstand, a cultural district walkway around the town and harbor, the lagoon, fishing and shellfishing, the shellfish hatchery, traditional wooden boat building, artisans, stained glass, wrought iron, bronze and copper metal works and lots more.

I feel that we, the residents of Tisbury, need to emphasize real solutions for our town if we want to have a vibrant economy. We must continue building on the profound, authentic and long lasting vision of our unique culture that will further enrich the sustainable values of our beautiful town.

Pam Benjamin
Vineyard Haven