Tisbury selectmen discuss parking, landscaping and licenses
File photo by Susan Safford
Tisbury selectmen agreed Tuesday to provide parking for school employees and saw light at the end of an overlong tunnel for resolving the unoccupied emergency services facility landscaping problem. But town officials, perhaps due to the warmth inside the Katharine Cornell Theatre, expressed some irritation with some of their constituents and with each other.
Parking for Tisbury School
At the request of selectman Tristan Israel, John Custer, principal of the Tisbury School, and school committee member Janet Packer attended the meeting. Mr. Israel wanted to discuss school overflow parking.
"In a friendly, polite way, I wanted to ask you what's going on," Mr. Israel said.
Ms. Packer said the school has more than 70 teachers, employees, and visitors daily who need spaces to park. "As it is, on a given day, going into my school when I'm trying to pick my children up, I can't find parking," she said.
The American Legion currently furnishes 35 parking spaces in its lot across the street, but it has asked school officials to find an alternative due to liability concerns. Approximately a dozen teachers park near the school buses and the other faculty members park in the main school parking lot, though, she said, the situation isn't desirable.
She asked that teachers be allowed space in the Department of Public Works lot opposite the school. "We need 40 spaces, at least, and that is what the DPW lot is for," Ms. Packer said.
Mr. Israel hesitated. "I'm not opposed to teachers parking there, I'm just protecting the interests of the town," he said.
Selectman Jeff Kristal said he favored allowing teachers to park in the lot, but did not want to give the school exclusive use. "I'm never in favor of turning it over to the school. I think the town should be able to utilize it in years to come," he said.
Selectman John Snyder did not comment. After 30 minutes of discussion between the two selectmen and Ms. Packer, the selectmen agreed to allow school employees to use the lot.
Trees for ESF
Although the new emergency services facility (ESF) is mostly complete, the town has not signed off on the project because of outstanding construction issues with Seaver Construction.
When complete, the facility will house town fire, ambulance and emergency management staff and equipment.
Seaver got the $5.52 million contract in February 2010 to build the approximately 18,500-square-foot ESF on West Spring Street, across from the school. The project's contract completion date was June 4, 2011.
To cover damages including a misaligned foundation, buckled steel supports, drainage issues, and project delays, Seaver has already paid the town more than $18,000.
Leah and Clifford Dorr, who live next to the new ESF, were promised landscaping that has not been provided, to screen their home from the facility. If the town will pay for the plants and materials, estimated to cost $6,000, the family offered to do the planting themselves.
Tisbury fire Chief John Schilling said efforts to move forward with other building issues are currently held up because of the focus on landscaping.
"With all due respect to the board, we have a lot of significant issues that have not gotten resolved, issues that have been put on hold at great expense to the taxpayers in general, while we're trying to resolve a minor landscaping issue," Chief Schilling said raising his voice. "If all our efforts are being spent on the plants, we're not going to move forward."
Plus, Chief Schilling said, the selectmen are taking advantage of ESF building committee chairman Joe Tierney, who is working to help settle the issue. "Joe has spent hours of his time on this," he said. "Stop abusing this man."
"I think you're a bit unfair in this assessment," Mr. Israel said, adding that he is very grateful to Mr. Tierney, who was present at the meeting, though he didn't speak often.
Mr. Dorr also took offense. "It's not like we just made up a problem. We're frustrated too," he said. "We're offering up our services. I'm willing to get my kids out there to plant."
Chief Schilling said his criticism wasn't directed at Mr. Dorr, but the situation as a whole.
Selectman Jeff Kristal said blame is being misdirected. "Not to point the finger at Seaver, but for over a year they've been dragging their feet," he said.
After hearing Mr. Dorr say his family has chosen plants, Mr. Kristal questioned what the holdup is.
"If the Dorrs are happy with the trees they picked out, and they're aware that the leaves will fall off in the winter, then the committee is fine with what they picked out," said Mr. Tierney.
All present seemed satisfied that the landscaping issue would be resolved within weeks.
Chief Schilling also raised the hurdles he has encountered to complete fire inspections of two Tisbury businesses.
He said The Martha's Vineyard Inn on Franklin Avenue, owned by Roni DeLuz, and The Look Inn on Look Street, owned by Frederick Rundlet, have not completed all steps to renew their lodging house licenses.
"These two have not been approved to date and are chronic in their failure to respond to requests to be inspected," Chief Schilling said. "How much energy must the town put into it to get the inspection done so these two can get their permits to legally operate?"
Assistant town administrator Aase Jones said the two inns have filed paperwork with the town but have yet to complete inspections.
Mr. Kristal suggested the town shut the businesses down. He asked Chief Schilling, "Do we not have the authority between you, the building inspector, and us to close them?"
Chief Schilling said he was not sure. "I don't think we've ever run into this problem before," he said.
The board agreed to give the businesses one week to complete inspections. "Otherwise we will do what we can to make them cease business," Mr. Israel said.
Mr. Kristal, owner of the Crocker House Inn, offered a more personal perspective. "That's six days more than I would give them, but that's just because I run a bed and breakfast, and how come the other 18 or 20 of us can do it but they can't?" he said.
In other business
The selectmen discussed Dukes County's 13 percent ownership of Tashmoo Beach. Selectmen said the town provides services that include lifeguards and road maintenance, and the county provides nothing.
"I'd like to approach the county and ask them about [the town] taking back the 13 percent of Tashmoo that we gave them years ago," Mr. Kristal said. The selectmen agreed to approach the county about the topic.
The selectmen also approved three-year appointments for 47 fire department members.