A giant oak tree that graces the east side of Music street near Middle Road is declining and will soon die, West Tisbury tree warden Jeremiah Brown told selectmen at their meeting Wednesday evening. Several neighbors and concerned citizens attended the meeting to express their hopes that the tree would finish its life undisturbed.

Mr. Brown estimated the tree has three to five years left based on the declining canopy and bark. “It’s a fact I’m stating. It’s dying and it’s going to be dead shortly,” he told selectmen.

The large old oak has a top branch that arches over the road, and superintendent of streets Richard Olsen said large trucks have been colliding with the arch. Small pieces of metal are now embedded in the arch and the tree has been stripped of its bark in one section from the frequent brushes with vehicles.

“That’s the first piece that’s going to die because it’s been struck so many times,” Mr. Brown said.

West Tisbury selectman Kent Healy measured oak following a meeting Wednesday. Selectmen will discuss the fate of the tree again on Oct. 17. — Holly Pretsky

Selectmen were concerned about the possibility that the massive branch could fall onto the road, posing a hazard to vehicles, people and the power lines across the street.

“I think we would be remiss if we did not address it,” selectman Kent Healy said.

The discussion was not a formal public hearing, but selectmen heard from town citizens who love the tree and spoke about its merits.

“It’s one of the most beautiful trees on the road, and one of two that arch the road,” Music street resident Phyllis Meras said. She said the problem is not the tree but the increasing size and speed of vehicles on rural roads.

“They don’t pay any attention to anything very much except going fast,” Ms. Meras said. “I think it’s terrible if we are cutting down trees because of the height of buses and trucks if this is supposed to be a rural area.”

Selectmen ruled out the possibility of removing the tree altogether but left open the question of whether to remove the arching branch. For now the branch will be marked so town citizens can have a look before the fate of the tree is discussed again, tentatively on Oct. 17.

In other business at the meeting, Angela Grant of the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) spoke with selectmen about installing two wireless electric bus charging pads at the town hall. The VTA already uses six electric buses on the Island and has one charging station in Edgartown. Ms. Grant said a second charging station in West Tisbury would allow the expanding electric fleet to make the trip up-Island.

“We need to be able to charge them en route,” she said.

The buses would stop over the pads while picking up passengers, establishing a connection with the underground charging unit through a wireless “handshake,” Ms. Grant said. The buses could sufficiently recharge within five to seven minutes.

While the charging pads would be relatively unobtrusive, each will require an additional six-foot by six-foot by two-foot-deep cabinet to house the electrical equipment that runs the pad. Those cabinets would have to be located within 75 feet of the pad, meaning they would likely need to be located around the town hall as well.

Ms. Grant said she also hopes to install a backup energy storage unit on the property in case there is loss of power.

Selectmen said the issue of the structures would have to be referred to the historic district commission (“You could put shingles on them,” one audience member wryly remarked). The historic district commission meets on Oct. 15.

After a monthslong back and forth with taxi meter expert Michael Mzanski, selectmen ultimately decided not to require taxi meters, citing concerns of the town’s lone taxi company, Lighthouse Taxi. Lighthouse Taxi owners were concerned the metered system would not take into account a driver’s trip to pick up a passenger, and West Tisbury drivers often find themselves going a long way.

“I intend to vote against, largely because I sympathize with Lighthouse’s plight, and I think it’s a crazy route that they have to deal with,” Selectman Cynthia Mitchell said shortly before the vote. “I would feel differently if there were more cab companies involved or if we were in Edgartown or Tisbury or Oak Bluffs.”

Mr. Mzanski has led an Islandwide campaign to allow taxis to determine prices using a meter app, arguing that the app will provide more consistency and fairness. Tisbury has voted to allow the meters. Edgartown is expected to vote on allowing meters next week. Oak Bluffs has formally researched metering as well.

Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd voted for the regulations, saying the meters would protect customers and visitors to the Island.

“I think meters are only way there’s documentation and proof,” he said. “The biggest issue we have is overcharging.”

After discussion, selectmen voted not to allow the option of meters, because they expect Lighthouse Taxi to be the only taxi company in town. West Tisbury has decided not to grant any new taxi licenses, meaning that if Lighthouse Taxi were to go out of business, there will be no new taxi companies in the town unless the rule is overturned.