Roofs, renovation, rats at Oak Bluffs special town meeting tonight

Funding to repair Oak Bluffs town hall is one of the items on the special town meeting warrant for Tuesday, November 13 — File photo by Mae Deary

Oak Bluffs voters will decide whether to approve borrowing $250,000 for a package of repair and maintenance projects at a special town meeting on Tuesday, November 13.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 pm at the Oak Bluffs School on Tradewinds Road.

Town officials say that the town deferred maintenance projects as the town struggled with financial constraints over the past three years. They are the first steps in a $10.9 million capital improvement plan unveiled by the town last month.

Included in the proposed article is replacement of the police department roof ($60,000), structural repairs to the Mainstay building at Sailing Camp Park ($45,000), replacement of the town hall roof ($35,000), exterior painting and repairs to the town hall and library ($25,000 each), replacement of the town hall heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system ($35,000), repairs to the library HVAC system ($15,000), and replacement of the fire station boiler ($10,000).

“I don’t think it’s going to be a hard sell, but you never really know until you’re there,” said Kathy Burton, chairman of the board of selectmen. “The payment is within Proposition 2.5 and within the budget, budgeted over ten years. I think people realize these buildings have been sorely neglected.”

In separate articles voters will decide whether to borrow $25,000 to finance an architectural study for a new fire, emergency medical services, and public safety building, as well as $15,000 for an architectural study for major renovations to town hall.

Another article calls for a $25,000 appropriation to replenish the selectmen’s professional and technical account, which covers legal bills and engineering studies. Voters approved $92,888 for that account at the annual town meeting last spring. Town officials say that engineering studies related to stabilization of the town’s coastal banks, a strategic planning process, and planning for modernizing the fire station, have depleted the account.

Also on the warrant is a measure that asks voters to approve $15,000 for the demolition of 10 Warwick Avenue, a residential property owned by Gardner Burgess, according to records at the registry of deeds. The board of health has labeled the building a safety hazard.

“It has been condemned,” Ms. Burton said. “There are people that keep getting into it. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

If voters approve the demolition, the town will put a lien on the property, and could recover the cost of the demolition if the property is sold.

The town’s share of the Dukes County Integrated Pest Management program will be up for discussion. In each of the past two years, voters have refused to fund the program, after town officials said the county provided little service to town buildings or residential homes.

The article calls for $8,015 to fund Oak Bluffs’s share of the county program. That cost comes in addition to the $99,520 assessment the town pays toward the county operating expenses.

The article on Tuesday’s warrant gives selectmen some control of supervision over program manager T.J. Heggarty, by adding the phrase “under such terms and conditions as may be established by the board of selectmen.”

The program was once funded entirely from county revenue. Under a schedule of increasing cost shift, Currently, Island towns pay 90 percent of the cost of the program. At annual town meetings next spring, voters will be asked to fund the entire cost.