West Tisbury voters in special meeting Tuesday

mae deary

West Tisbury voters at a special town meeting next week will decide whether to appropriate money to complete the design phase of the new police station, next to the current public safety building on State Road.

The funding question for the new police station is the highlight in an otherwise routine meeting. Most of the other articles are housekeeping matters that are not expected to generate much debate or discord.

The special town meeting is at 7 pm, Tuesday, November 13, at the West Tisbury Elementary School.

First, there is the funding question for the new police station, which would appropriate $80,000 from overlay surplus to complete the final design and construction documents for the new station.

Norm Perry, chairman of the police station building committee, said the article allows the town to lock in a price for the project and bring final plans to voters at the annual meeting in April.

“This will give us detailed plans and finals costs, right down to the penny. Plus it will allow us to lock in a price as we move forward, which in the end will save us thousands of dollars,” he said.

Mr. Perry noted the article does not amount to final approval of the project, but is another step in a detailed process. In February the building committee first unveiled plans for the new police station, with reaction mostly positive.

Then at the annual town meeting in April, voters easily approved an article to appropriate $85,000 for the development of construction documents; the article at next week’s special town meeting will allow those documents to be completed.

The new police station will be built at the site of the public safety complex off State Road that houses the fire department. The initial estimated cost of the project is between $2.5 million and $2.9 million.

Mr. Perry said the final costs might be lower than the early estimates.

If approved, the police department would move from their current 1,350-square-foot headquarters with limited parking next to the Mill Pond to a new 5,634-square-foot building with ample parking on the other side of town.

Mr. Perry said approval of the article next week will clear the way for the project to begin construction in April, pending the outcome of the final town meeting vote.

“We can start the next day if the voters approve it [in April], we can get a big jump on things and save money,” he said. “It is just good business.”

Also at the special town meeting, voters will decide an article to appropriate $2,533 to be added to the fiscal year 2013 budget to pay in full the adjusted assessment to the Dukes County retirement fund.

Voters will also decide an article to amend the zoning bylaws to move two lots at the intersection of Indian Hill and State Roads from the rural district to the mixed business district.

Town administrator Jen Rand said these two parcels are the only ones in the immediate area that are not included in the mixed business district.

Voters will also decide whether to amend a vote of the 2008 annual town regarding the development of affordable housing at 200 State Road being developed by the Island Housing Trust with funding from the Island Affordable Housing Fund.

The 2008 article requires the town affordable housing committee to execute an enforceable covenant or restriction ensuring the “perpetual affordability” of the housing units created.

The article at the special town meeting would change the address of the project from 200 State Road to 250 State Road, correcting a previous oversight. It would also delete the language regarding the “perpetual affordability” of the units.

Ms. Rand said the language as written is too restrictive and makes it virtually impossible for a homebuyer to get a mortgage. The language will be changed to instead say “what the affordable housing committee deems adequate.”

Voters will also consider a housekeeping article to rescind $5,000, which is the unused balance of the $285,000 borrowed to purchase the Field Gallery property. The purchase price was $5,000 less than the amount approved by voters.

Another article would establish a reserve fund for the future payment of accrued liabilities for compensated absences due any employee of the town upon the termination of the employee’s employment.

“We don’t have a fund now, and if we have say three people who retire in one year and decide to use all their unused vacation and sick pay, we don’t have the money,” Ms. Rand said. “This will cover us.”

Voters will also consider an article authorizing Selectmen to sell, convey, release, or otherwise dispose of two parcels off Long Point Road. The parcels are all landlocked, surrounded by conservation lands, Ms. Rand said.

Another article asks voters to transfer $20,000 to the West Tisbury Affordable Housing Trust Fund for future affordable housing purposes. The article would match the $20,000 from the proceeds from the sale of an affordable housing lot in Bailey Park.

The final article asks voters to appropriate $801.46 for the MV Center for Living to fund the Cost of Living adjustment that was not included in the original budget.