West Tisbury signs Field Gallery P&S, seeks new shellfish constable


West Tisbury selectmen last week signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Field Gallery property, setting the stage for voters to decide at town meeting if they want to buy the 1.4-acre parcel across from the Congregational Church, for a total price of $685,000.

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, March 30, selectmen emphasized they were not giving final approval to the deal, but only signing an agreement that will give voters the option to purchase the property at town meeting.

“It needs to be understood what this is, although it’s called a purchase and sale, it is just keeping the deal in place so the town can vote on it. It’s not the selectmen agreeing to go forward, because we can’t go forward without the town,” selectmen Cynthia Mitchell said.

Ms. Mitchell praised the Maley family for helping to bring the deal together. “It’s worth mentioning that during our negotiations with the Maleys, we stressed that this needed to be cost-neutral to the town in these tough times, and the Maleys were willing to do their part . . . and I, for one, appreciate their efforts,” Ms. Mitchell said.

“We’re impressed it got done in time,” Eileen Maley said from the audience.

In other news, selectmen unanimously agreed to rescind the appointment of shellfish constable Jeffrey Lynch, citing poor communication. Selectmen appointed Mr. Lynch, a commercial fisherman and assistant shellfish warden in Chilmark, last June.

Town administrator Jen Rand said the shellfish committee was having problems keeping in contact with Mr. Lynch. “In conversations with the shellfish committee, and my own interactions with the shellfish warden, I think it’s become clear that perhaps our appointee is not a great fit for the town,” she said. “It’s a position that requires a great deal of communications with my office and the committee, and we’re not getting a great response on that.”

Ms. Rand suggested selectmen consider promoting assistant shellfish warden Ray Gale. “He’s been an enormous help to me and gone out of his way and, quite frankly, to do the work of the warden for most of this past year,” she added.

Selectmen agreed to place an advertisement in the newspaper seeking candidates, but said they would consider Mr. Gale to be a top candidate if he applied. “I’m perfectly willing to ask if he’ll do it. If he wants the job, I don’t think he’ll have a lot of competition,” chairman Richard Knabel said.