West Tisbury selectmen sign off on housing parcel transfer


The West Tisbury selectmen signed a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) governing the Bailey Park affordable housing project at their Sept. 15 meeting, contingent upon approval by the boards of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Martha’s Vineyard and the Island Housing Trust.

The Habitat for Humanity board signed the LDA Thursday, Habitat executive director Neal Sullivan said. The Island Housing Trust board signed on Saturday. The LDA spells out the regulations for the transferring of the property so that the land remains in the town’s affordable housing program regardless of future home ownership.

In July, the selectmen awarded the three lots on Bailey Park Road to Habitat for Humanity to create three new units of affordable housing. At the time, Mr. Sullivan said he hoped to begin construction in September. The timeline was pushed back due to delays in the LDA approval process.

Mr. Sullivan said that the next steps include community outreach to the Bailey Park neighbors to explain the project and securing insurance to move the former M.V. Savings Bank building on State Road that will become the first of the three housing units. Habitat must also secure building permits and decide whether to begin construction of all three units simultaneously or only prepare a foundation for the first unit and wait to dig the other two holes and pour those foundations later. Mr. Sullivan said he does not know when that decision will be made.

In other business, selectman Richard Knabel expects to schedule a debriefing session with town emergency management director John Christensen to discuss the town’s hurricane Earl preparedness activities, including the implementation of the Code Red system.

“We were well-prepared, and it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared,” Mr. Knabel said.

In a telephone interview with The Times, Mr. Christensen said that in general, both the private and the public sectors were well prepared.

Code Red, the Island-wide reverse calling emergency notification system put on line in July, was not tested prior to its use for hurricane Earl notifications. Mr. Christensen said that there were a few technical glitches, including the content of messages differing between Island towns and Island-wide. “Code Red is a good tool. Going forward, we need to use it more judiciously. We will work out some guidelines to make that happen,” he said.

Mr. Christensen was expected to attend last night’s selectmen’s meeting to speak about the response.

The town of West Tisbury issued a Code Red message on Thursday, September 2. Between 6:44 pm and 7:37 pm the system contacted 1,205 active numbers in the database and 1,004 were reached for an 83 percent success rate, according to the Code Red system data, Mr. Christensen told The Times.

“We need to increase the number of people enrolled in Code Red,” Mr. Christensen said. “If people are in doubt that their telephone number is in the database, they should enroll again. The system will weed out duplications without dropping anyone from the database.

“And, there are not many people who signed up for text or email messages through Code Red in West Tisbury. They should do that too,” Mr. Christensen said. Property owners may register for Code Red notification by using the West Tisbury town website (www.westtisbury-ma.gov) and clicking on the Code Red icon.

The selectmen also discussed with building and zoning inspector Ernie Mendenhall a letter of complaint signed by six neighbors abutting the State Road Restaurant. The correspondence was also sent to the town zoning board of appeals (ZBA) and cites issues that the abutters say constitute violatations of the agreed-upon conditions under which the restaurant’s ZBA special permit was granted: Inadequate parking, garbage pickup procedures, and noise, including a commercial fan in operation from 6:30 am until 11 pm and the 2:30 am power washing of cooking area vents and filters.

Mr. Mendenhall told the selectmen that he had been to the site once with ZBA chairman Roger (Tucker) Hubbell and will return to meet with the restaurant officials.