In West Tisbury, boulders at town hall aren’t historic

The West Tisbury historic district commission has asked the selectmen to take steps to remove boulders placed in front of the new Town Hall. The commission said it never approved their use as a parking control device.

Commission chairman Sean Conley told the selectmen at their January 19 meeting that, “Their use was not on any official plans. The use of boulders is like making a cake and putting some ugly thing on top of it.”

“We didn’t know about the rocks,” Nancy Dole, also a commission member, said. “We never knew about them until they appeared out there. This is a formal building, so we think the boulders are inappropriate.”

According to Mr. Conley and Ms. Dole, the commission would consider the use of granite posts that could also be connected by chain, or a picket fence.

“The picket fence may never come to be, because you need to get voter approval,” selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter said. He suggested a split rail fence.

“The problem out there is not just the boulders. There is a no man’s land between town hall and Alley’s General Store,” selectman chairman Richard Knabel said. It’s a stretch of state-owned roadway, so any paving would require with state authorities, he said.

Mr. Knabel said there may be some money left in the town hall construction fund. But, he said he doubted that the commission has ample time to research and price out acceptable alternatives and prepare an article for the annual town meeting warrant, which closes on Feb.1.

Mr. Conley said the commission will propose a suitable alternative and return to the selectman with that information. The town hall building committee has been dissolved. Tax levy report Mr. Knabel reported data compiled by town accountant Bruce Stone documenting the cumulative change in tax levy for each Island town from FY 2006 through the current year FY2011.

“We have been doing a good job of trying to control our costs,” Mr. Knabel said.

Total local property tax revenues raised in Edgartown increased by 24 percent over the five years, 36 percent in Tisbury, 23 percent in Oak Bluffs, 27 percent in Chilmark and 33 percent in Aquinnah. In West Tisbury, the increase was eight percent over the same period, he said.

The tax levy is the sum the town must raise through taxation to cover expenses not met by other sources such as state funding, fees, grants.

In other business, selectmen appointed Lisa Amols to a now vacant seat on the parks and recreation committee. The term will expire in April. Although both Suzanne Hammond and Ms. Amols submitted letters of interest, committee member Cheryl Lowe told the selectmen that the committee preferred Ms. Amols, because she has prior experience on the committee.

The selectmen signed necessary forms to accompany the West Tisbury Free Public Library grant application to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).

Library officials expect to learn if they have received the funding grant – they seek $600,000 – in June. The grant would contribute half the construction costs. A quarter of the construction costs will be raised from private donations and a quarter from taxes.

At the April town meeting, the library will ask taxpayers to approve funding of their share. Construction will take a year and be complete by the spring of 2014.

The selectmen also asked town administrator Jennifer Rand to ask the town board of health to approve the expansion of John Powers’s responsibilities to include serving as the municipal well operator overseeing the new well for the library and Howes House.