The owner of the Woods Hole Market was threatened with arrest following an outburst during a heated discussion about parking in front of his Water Street grocery store.
Owner Branch (Jeff) Parrish was before the Falmouth Traffic Advisory Committee Monday morning, June 16, to request additional temporary parking in front of the market, as recent road work on Water Street and stricter parking law enforcement in the last year shrunk his already limited parking.
When the committee did not agree to what Mr. Parrish requested, tensions escalated and Mr. Parrish was asked to leave the meeting after he ignored several requests from co-chairman Officer James Porter to quiet down, swore at the police officer, told Barbara S. Pratt, the co-chairman of the committee, that she had “an attitude problem,” and said he was the target of some town officials’ malevolent agenda.
Mr. Parrish’s request has been backed by members of the community, including Albert E. Fitzelle, Penzance Road, Woods Hole, who read a letter on behalf of the Woods Hole Community Association; abutting business owners Carol A. Grigas, owner of the Phusion Grille, Judith Laster, director of the Woods Hole Film Festival; Nan Garrett-Logan of Woods Hole Road; and other Woods Hole villagers and business owners.
At the end of the meeting, the committee decided to advise the Board of Selectmen to allot two parking spots that do not abut the market for two hours a day of additional, temporary parking for the market. They urged Mr. Parrish and the other residents to approach selectmen and Falmouth Chief of Police Edward A. Dunne about the situation.
Mr. Parrish said that because of a lack of parking, his store is in jeopardy. He requested that a loading zone that stretches from the Phusion Grille to the end of his market on Water Street be shortened so customers can get to his store.
He said that for the last 75 years plus, a market has served the community in the same location with adequate parking.
Officer Porter said that the committee did not have the authority to modify a loading zone. When Mr. Parrish asked if they would recommend to selectmen that the loading zone be modified, Officer Porter said that he would have to hear from the restaurant owners on Water Street before making the suggestion, including the owner of the Captain Kidd.
“I’m getting nowhere here,” Mr. Parrish said. He then remarked upon Ms. Pratt’s attitude. Ms. Pratt responded that she has been frustrated because she felt the committee had been responsive to the needs of the business community.
“You’re frustrated?” Mr. Parrish said. “How do you think I feel?” He then stood up and approached the board and continued to raise his voice. He then left, and returned about a minute later and said that the committee “was sealing the fate of the market.”
Officer Porter said that if he returned again, he would arrest him for disorderly conduct.
Mr. Fitzelle read a letter on behalf of the Village Association, signed by co-president Stephan Junker, that urged the committee to make a 15-minute parking spot directly in front of the store. Mr. Fitzelle also said that every village in Falmouth has a corner market with adequate parking such as Kenyon’s Market in Waquoit, or Family Foods in East Falmouth, and the West Falmouth Market.
Mr. Fitzelle also apologized for Mr. Parrish’s behavior.
Ms. Garrett-Logan said that parking in front of the store had been adequate up until last summer. A new parking enforcement officer from the police department started ticketing cars parked temporarily in the loading zone.
She said that the market is a store for year-round residents and has been able to function with adequate parking since the 1960s.
Ms. Laster asked the board if Chief of Police Edward A. Dunne could cease enforcing the loading zone as strictly as the policeman did last summer.
Officer Porter said that he knew what the chief would say to that request but urged those attending to voice their opinions straight to the chief.
At the end of the hearing, the committee decided to recommend that 15-minute parking from 4 to 6 PM be allowed in a parking spot across the street and to the east of the market that is currently reserved for a police officer whose shift ends at 4 PM. Members of the committee also decided to research a second spot that belongs to the Woods Hole bridge tender. That spot is currently reserved for taxis when the bridge tender is not working.
Prior to the hearing, Mr. Parrish circulated a petition with 476 signatures. “We, the undersigned, support the Woods Hole Market in regaining parking spaces in front of 87 Water Street, as it has been for the last 75 plus years,” the opening line reads.