Oak Bluffs fishing pier on Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s agenda

Looking north from the Oak Bluff Steamship Authority terminal, the fishing pier will be located between the terminal and the harbor jetty shown in the background of this photo. — File photo by Nelson Sigelman

Although the Oak Bluffs roundabout decision took center stage at Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) meetings last month, several other noteworthy projects remain on the regional permitting agency’s summer list for review or revisit.

A public fishing pier to be built with state funds in Oak Bluffs was back on the MVC’s agenda for July 12. The Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission referred the pier project to the MVC in 2010, because any development in the ocean triggers the commission’s review as a development of regional impact (DRI).

The project reeled in the MVC’s unanimous approval on November 18, 2010. The commission’s written decision, approved December 2, 2010, stipulated that it would be voided if substantial construction did not begin two years from that date. It could be extended, however, upon written request from the applicant and written approval from the MVC.

In a letter dated June 25, Douglas Cameron, Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA) assistant director and deputy chief engineer, requested a two-year extension.

“To date we have obtained all necessary local, state and federal permits,” Mr. Cameron wrote. “The project is now ready for construction, pending final approval of funding.”

At last week’s meeting the MVC voted unanimously to approve the two-year extension to December 2, 2014.

The FBA, which is part of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, partnered with the town of Oak Bluffs on the proposal to construct and maintain an L-shaped, pile-supported, handicapped accessible fishing pier off Sea View Avenue Extension north of the Steamship Authority’s pier.

In a phone conversation with The Times last week, Mr. Cameron said the Army Corps of Engineers recently issued the final permit required for the fishing pier project. Other necessary permits included a local conservation permit, a combined Wetlands Protection Act and local wetlands bylaw permit, and a Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 91 license, he said.

Under the terms of the agreement with Oak Bluffs, the state will be responsible for 100 percent of the cost of the fishing pier’s design, permitting, and construction. In testimony at an MVC public hearing on October 7, 2010, Mr. Cameron estimated the fishing pier would cost $750,000 to $1 million.

Oak Bluffs agreed to be responsible for day-to-day maintenance, public safety, and policing, but will not incur capital expenses.

Mr. Cameron explained that the state government is currently in the process of establishing capital funds for projects, which are separate from the regular operating budgets for agencies. “We are currently trying to secure the funding necessary so we can move forward with construction,” he said. “Once we know the funding is there, we’ll notify the town we’re in a position to start construction. That will initiate it.”

Turning over a new Leaf project

Also on the July 12 agenda is a public hearing for a project at 284 Upper Main Street in Edgartown. Property owners Nil and Jayne Leaf originally proposed to remove an existing residential home and guesthouse and rerect a three-story mixed-used building.

At a public hearing that concluded May 17 and a post-hearing review by the MVC’s land use planning committee on June 11, commissioners raised concerns that the project was too large for the property. In response, the Leafs slightly reduced the project and reoriented the parking area.

The LUPC voted to recommend to the full commission to allow the Leafs to withdraw their original proposal without prejudice and resubmit the revised plan for review at a new public hearing. The full commission agreed to a new hearing and also with the Leafs’ request to waive additional DRI fees, other than advertising.

West Tisbury Free Library gets a pass

In other business over the past several weeks, the MVC also reviewed modifications to some previously approved DRIs.

At a meeting on June 7 the commissioners took a pass on reviewing plans from the West Tisbury Free Library and town of West Tisbury to renovate the existing library and construct a new addition. The project will increase the library’s size from 5,620 gross square feet to 13,927. Approximately $2.98 million from state and federal grants will subsidize its estimated $6.5 million cost.

Library director Beth Kramer said the building committee and library trustees have encouraged public input during the design process through monthly public hearings.

The library is located at 1042 State Road on the same 1.6-acre property as the Howes House. The town recently purchased the Field Gallery next door and merged the two properties, for a total of more than three acres.

The library project’s referral by West Tisbury building inspector Ernest Mendenhall was triggered because of the property’s previous DRI status. The MVC reviewed and approved the expansion of the Howes House in 1991. The commission did not include the library at that time in its DRI review because local boards had already approved it, according to an MVC staff report.

After discussion that included reports on traffic and water resources, the commissioners voted that the library project did not require a public hearing because it meets the MVC nitrogen loading policy and does not increase traffic. They also voted to accept the modifications to the DRI.

Tisbury Farm Market’s summer home

At a meeting on June 21 the MVC took up a written request from Elio Silva, owner of the Vineyard Grocer and Tisbury Farm Market. His proposal to consolidate both markets into one building at the corner of State Road and High Point Lane received approval as a DRI in 2011.

Mr. Silva said he would like to run Tisbury Farm Market in one of the existing buildings this summer and to delay construction on the approved DRI expansion until the fall, at a time when it would be less difficult for his neighbors. The MVC voted to accept the temporary use of the building through the end of 2012.

MVTV scales back plans

At the same meeting the MVC also voted to approve a reduction of 2,600 square feet in plans for a studio facility for Martha’s Vineyard Television (MVTV), without further review. The project was approved as a DRI last January.

MVTV, the Island’s cable public access TV station, had planned to build a new 6,600-square-foot community media center with three studios, a classroom, and office space, plus an additional 620-square-foot attached garage, at 58 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. The 1.5-acre property is between the World Revival Church and the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home.

“At the time, we explained that this was our sort of wish list maximum master plan, or whatever you want to call it, but that if funds were only available for less than that, or a partial building, that we would come back to you when we worked all of that out,” architect Bruce MacNelly told the commissioners at the June 21 meeting. “So we’re now doing a building that’s 50 by 80 feet, 4,000 square feet.”

The revised facility would be similar to the original in layout, with studio spaces surrounded on three sides by offices, a classroom and support facilities, with no garage.

MVTV operates three cable channels and is funded by Comcast, Martha’s Vineyard’s current cable service provider, with five percent of its revenue from Island cable subscribers. Comcast is currently in negotiations for a new contract with the six Island towns. Edgartown and Tisbury have withdrawn from the talks until the issue of cable service on Chappaquiddick is resolved.

In a phone conversation with The Times this week, MVTV board president Anne Lemenager said MVTV used money accrued in its capital fund to buy the land.

“We’ve scaled back to what we know we have funding for, based on a five-year loan and what we can budget out of our operating fund to pay it back with interest,” Ms. Lemenager said. “We don’t have $1.5 million; we have a budget of about $800,000 right now, thanks to an anonymous donor who had the ability to invest in us so we could get started.”