Tisbury selectmen go to the dogs...again
After several weeks of dealing with dog issues, the Tisbury selectmen's meeting went to the dogs once again on Tuesday night. Selectmen held a public hearing on whether to adopt regulations prohibiting canines from town beaches from 8 am to 5 pm during the summer months.
Animal Control Officer Laurie Clements said she researched regulations used by other towns, but did not find any that she thought she could enforce. As an example, she said, last Sunday she saw four people with five dogs running loose on Owen Park beach. "They know when I'm on or not, and they'll be there before or after," Ms. Clements said. She questioned what the solution would be for boat owners, whose dogs who need to come ashore after being out on a boat all day.
The town does have a leash law and fines for owners who do not clean up their pets' waste.
Selectman Jeff Kristal agreed. "Banning dogs won't make it any better - and it's not welcoming," he said.
During the session reserved for public comment, former finance and advisory committee member Don Amaral suggested the town should enforce the regulations it already has instead of adopting more.
The selectmen agreed. They unanimously approved a motion to instruct the police department and harbormaster's department to help Ms. Clements enforce the leash law and waste clean-up, especially on the beaches, and to ask the lifeguards to speak to offenders.
Under department reports, Harbormaster Jay Wilbur told the selectmen that the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club (VHYC) is in the process of demolishing its old facility. Since voters at town meeting did not approve his request for funds for designs to make improvements to the harbormaster's building, Mr. Wilbur said it occurred to him that some of the VHYC's discarded materials, such as the deck and railings, could be recycled for use on his building. Mr. Wilbur said he would like to use the yacht club deck to add a deck to the second floor of the harbormaster's building.
At the spring annual meeting voters rejected Mr. Wilbur's request for funds to build a deck.
Mr. Wilbur said that since the materials will be taken away soon he had also considered taking some of the materials to his own house in the interest of providing the lumber for later use by the town. However, recalling the controversy caused when he took home old planking from the Owen Park dock project, Mr. Wilbur said he decided instead to ask the selectmen for permission to evaluate, remove, and store materials from the VHYC at the old Department of Public Works garage for possible re-use on the habormaster building.
Mr. Kristal expressed concern that it would cost the town money to transport, keep, and store the materials, plus additional funds for project designs. "This is a way of circumventing what the town voted - it's putting the cart before the horse," he said. Tristan Israel said he was concerned about what would happen if the materials did not get used on the harbormaster's building. Denys Wortman, however, suggested the materials might be used in renovating the Tashmoo Spring Building.
Town administrator John Bugbee recommended asking the VHYC to write a letter offering to donate the materials to the town.
In the meantime, the selectmen agreed to discuss the issue with the Tisbury Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom) at a meeting tonight at the Tisbury Senior Center at 7 pm. FinCom chairman Larry Gomez said the committee would review 11 articles received for the Sept. 30 special town meeting warrant.
In other reports, Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Fred LaPiana said that his department will begin the Veterans Park reconstruction project next week, which he expects to take about two months. Parking next to the old antique shop on Lagoon Pond Road will be unavailable, he said, as it will be used as a staging area for materials.
Mr. LaPiana said the DPW will start another big fall project shortly after Columbus Day, putting utilities underground on Union Street. The selectmen also discussed the possibility of reversing the direction of Union Street in a trial period during the winter. Selectman Denys Wortman said a public hearing will be held first.
Police Chief John Cashin said his department's biggest issue right now is personnel and asked for permission to fill two police officer positions. In addition to one vacancy, Officer Nicholas DiCicco, who completed his police academy training at the town's expense on April 28, submitted his resignation, effective August 29. Administrative secretary Linda Handy resigned last week.
"I'm very disappointed this individual is leaving," said Selectman Israel. "I hate to keep putting people through the academy and getting burned." Frustrated by the same issue in the past, Mr. Israel said the selectmen had consulted town counsel but were told they had no legal recourse for requiring repayment of the funds in exchange for a specified period of employment.
In other business, Donald and Susan Rappaport, who own a home on Hatch Road, asked the selectmen to participate in objecting to an application from Martin and Kathleen Crane, who also live on Hatch Road, for a Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 91 waterways license.
The Rappaports said the Cranes' application for a 112-foot pier violates Tisbury's harbor district of critical planning concern regulations. Mr. Israel said he would like to consult town counsel.
In follow-up business from August 12, the selectmen approved Mr. Kristal's motion to increase the town's gas inspection fees from $45 to $55.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Israel said he wanted to respond to an article that appeared in Tuesday's Martha's Vineyard Gazette regarding the town's issue with Thomas and Virginia Payette over trimming or removing willow trees obstructing the view at the Tashmoo overlook. Gazette reporter Mike Seccombe, who wrote the article, had left the meeting.
Mr. Israel aired the tree issue at the selectmen's meeting on August 14, taking the Payettes to task for postponing or canceling several meetings and then informing the selectmen they would only communicate through an attorney.
On Tuesday night, Mr. Israel took issue with the Gazette article as characterizing the selectmen unfairly.
"In response to the Gazette article, one would think that the board met with the Payettes and started threatening legal action," Mr. Israel said. "I would like to state that the board tried over the last year and a half to have a proper meeting, which Mr. Payette kept postponing. We finally had a meeting, and there were no threats of legal action made."
Furthermore, Mr. Israel said, "A statement from the lawyer [Attorney Michael Goldsmith] that the town claimed rights to their property is all smoke and mirrors." However, he added, "We would still like to work with the Payettes."
Mr. Bugbee said that he received a call this week from Mr. Payette who said he is still eager to discuss the issue.