Tisbury selectmen sweat agenda of decisions


Despite sweltering heat in the Katharine Cornell Theatre Tuesday night, the Tisbury selectmen doggedly sweated their way through an almost three-hour long meeting.

Among the highlights, the selectmen approved the police chief’s new contract and signed the town’s first beer and wine licenses. They also held a beer and wine license hearing, an affordable housing lottery, and a dog hearing in which they voted in favor of euthanizing the offending animal.

Facing a lengthy agenda, the selectmen started at 5 pm, a half-hour earlier than usual.

Selectman chairman Jeff Kristal asked everyone to observe a moment of silence in deference to Dina Dececca of Melrose, a bicyclist killed in an accident around 2 pm involving a tractor-trailer truck on State Road near Camp Street.

Mr. Kristal also thanked the Tisbury police department for doing a good job in handling the accident. Selectman Geoghan Coogan added special thanks to Oak Bluffs police officer Jeremiah “J.J.” Mendez, who was off-duty but happened to be driving by and quickly took charge at the accident scene as the first responder to arrive.

In follow-up to Daniel Hanavan’s appointment as Tisbury’s police chief on June 8, the selectmen signed a one-year contract with him through June 30, 2011. Chief Hanavan’s salary of $95,413 includes a $4,000 per year longevity payment. A veteran member of the department for 23 years, Chief Hanavan was appointed interim chief following the departure of former police chief John Cashin in the summer of 2009.

Town administrator John Bugbee said that in response to voters’ approval of Tisbury police union contract funds at a special town meeting on June 29, police officers would receive their pay at the new contract rates this week and retroactive pay within the next two weeks.

Beer and wine business

In a welcome surprise for restaurants eager to start serving beer and wine, the selectmen signed licenses granted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) for year-round licenses for Zephrus Restaurant and Rocco’s Family Style Italian Restaurant, and seasonal licenses for Saltwater Restaurant and Blue Canoe Restaurant. Mr. Kristal said the beer and wine licenses would be available at town hall Wednesday morning.

Assistant town administrator Aase Jones sent the restaurants’ license applications to the ABCC within three days of the selectmen’s approval at public hearings held June 8. At that time, applicants heard it might take six to eight weeks before the state granted the licenses.

However, Ms. Jones received the first four on Tuesday afternoon, as well as ones for the Black Dog Tavern and Black Dog Cafe, which were submitted following public hearings on June 15. The selectmen signed the Black Dog Tavern’s license but held off on one for the Café until renovations are completed and inspected.

In other beer and wine business, the selectmen held a public hearing and approved a license application from Jean Dupon, owner of Le Grenier restaurant on Main Street. The selectmen also approved a beer and wine policy enforcement plan put together by Chief Hanavan.

Affordable housing lottery

At 6 pm the selectmen held an affordable housing lottery for four units built by the town on Lambert’s Cove Road. Island Housing Trust executive director Philippe Jordi and Dukes County Regional Housing Authority administrator Terri Keech conducted the lottery, with assistance from Laura Barbera, co-chairman of Tisbury’s affordable housing committee.

Two of the houses were “awards,” given without a lottery drawing to Eric and Kristina Alexander, and to Julie Brand, because they were the only applicants that met the criteria. The other two homes were awarded by lottery drawings to Benton and Emily Coulter, and Colleen Marie Meyer-Barton.

Dog Hearing

Turning to a less happy matter, the selectmen heard a complaint about a dog owned by Ed Staruk-Gillies on Bernard Circle that killed a cat owned by Nancy Smith Massingham and Gordon Massingham on Leland Avenue.

According to Tisbury Animal Control Officer (ACO) Laurie Clements, on May 28 Joyce Staruk was walking her son Ed’s 82-lb. American bulldog on a leash when he spotted a calico cat. The dog yanked himself free from Ms. Staruk at the corner of Leland and Franklin Avenues and ran off to attack and kill the cat. He then ran back home with the deceased animal in his mouth, Ms. Clements said.

Ms. Staruk attempted to contact the owners, but they were at work. A neighbor told the Massinghams about their pet’s death when they arrived home.

Although Ms. Staruk visited them a few days later to apologize for what happened, her son never did, Ms. Clements said. Mr. Staruk-Gillies never walks the dog, pays any fees or fines associated with its ownership, nor takes any responsibility for his pet, she told the selectmen.

Among numerous complaints she has received about the dog, Ms. Clements said he attacked another dog when off-leash at Eastville Beach on January 4 and tried to attack a cat at the Island Elderly Housing development on March 2.

Ms. Staruk said her son is leaving for college in the fall, and admitted she was nervous about being responsible for the dog, because she can’t control him.

When asked by the selectmen what she would recommend to resolve the issue, Ms. Clements said the dog should be euthanized. Mr. Israel argued in favor of giving Mr. Staruk-Gillies a 4- to 5-day grace period to find a rehabilitation center off-Island that would take the dog permanently.

“There are some dogs that no matter what you do, are just aggressive,” Mr. Coogan said. Although sympathetic to Mr. Staruk-Gillies about having to give up his pet, Mr. Coogan assured him that he would own other dogs in his life that would not be so problematic.

Mindful of criticism that the selectmen handled previous dog complaints too leniently, Mr. Kristal said, “We’ve taken such a lazy stance in the past and it’s come back to bite us. If Laurie says euthanasia, we should listen.”

In response to Mr. Israel’s repeated arguments in favor of allowing Mr. Staruk-Gillies to seek an alternative to euthanasia, Mr. Kristal objected, “Every time we ban a dog, it comes back.” Ms. Clements said she did not think the dog would be rehabilitated successfully.

Putting an end to Mr. Israel’s repetitive debate, Mr. Kristal said it was time for the selectmen to take Ms. Clements professional advice and stand by her recommendation.

Mr. Israel made a motion to impound the dog on Wednesday, which the selectmen unanimously approved. He balked at supporting Mr. Coogan’s motion to euthanize the dog as soon as possible, however, and abstained from the vote, leaving Mr. Coogan and Mr. Kristal to take the hard line in voting yes.

In doing so, Mr. Israel continued his pattern in recent dog hearings of making his fellow selectmen bear the responsibility for difficult and unpopular decisions.

Wind, water, and victuals

The selectmen also heard about wind energy options for the town from Brian Kuhn, vice president of project development, and Shawn Lockett, vice president of sales and marketing, for Aeronautica Windpower. The Tisbury energy committee arranged for the presentation.

In other business, the selectmen approved a bid for $238,980 from Rock Salt Alloy Boats of Palacios, Tex., to build a patrol boat with firefighting capabilities that would also be used for port security. Harbormaster Jay Wilbur said Tisbury received a Homeland Security grant for $265,000 that will cover the cost of the boat, plus $12,000 for electrical wiring.

In answer to The Times question after the meeting ended, Mr. Israel said that although Oak Bluffs obtained a similar port security vessel in 2004 that was touted as an Island asset, it made sense to replace Tisbury’s aging patrol boat with one that could serve multiple purposes.

The selectmen also awarded contracts to Power Products of Wakefield for two power generators, one for Tisbury School for $116,325 and one for the new emergency services facility for $102,875.

In addition, the selectmen approved a common victualer license application from owner Jenik Munafo for the Little House Café, a new year-round restaurant at 339 State Road at the former site of Louis’s Café and Takeout.