Tisbury selectmen ho, ho, ho’d their way through a long agenda Tuesday evening that featured such show-stoppers as their agreement to hold the town’s special town meeting and annual town meeting on the same day, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, to avoid a conflict with the last day of Passover, if the special meeting were held on April 2.
Selectmen also had a comprehensive discussion of requests from various town departments for funds Tisbury receives from the Steamship Authority’s (SSA) passenger ferry embarkation fee. They voted to eliminate a few of the requests from the final list that the town’s embarkation fee committee will consider and choose to put before town meeting voters next spring.
The legislatively imposed 50-cent surcharge on one-way ferry passenger tickets generates considerable money for Tisbury and Oak Bluffs as the SSA’s port towns. At annual town meeting in April, Tisbury voters were presented with $234,253 in embarkation fee money and approved a laundry list of 17 items.
The law requires that the money be used only for mitigating the impact of ferry service on the city or town. Those uses include providing harbor services, public safety protection, emergency services, or infrastructure improvements.
Selectman Jeff Kristal suggested the selectmen should evaluate this year’s department requests in terms of priority. He and selectman Jonathan Snyder voted to take the ambulance department’s request for $8,000 for specialized pediatric resuscitation and mobilization equipment off the list. Although selectman chairman Tristan Israel said he considered the request a low priority, he abstained from the vote. Mr. Kristal and Mr. Snyder also voted to to turn down emergency management director Christopher Cini’s request for the purchase of a new vehicle, with $18,000 set aside annually for three years. Mr. Israel opposed them.
“There’s no need for the emergency management director to spend money on a new vehicle to drive around in a storm,” Mr. Kristal said in discussion before the vote. “The police department can drive him around.”
The selectmen postponed a decision on a request from harbor master Jay Wilbur for $300,000 to dredge Vineyard Haven harbor, pending further discussions with town officials, the Harbor Management Committee and the dredge committee regarding the possibility of the town buying a dredge rather than leasing one.
Earlier in the meeting, Steve Miller of Ellicott Dredge, based in Baltimore, Md., gave a presentation about dredge equipment, costs, and leasing and purchasing options. Mr. Miller said the cost to buy a dredge would be about $500,000, including capital costs but not operational costs, transportation, and on-site support. Ellicott Dredge offers a lease/purchase program. It costs $30,000 a month to lease a dredge.
Mr. Wilbur said a project to dredge Vineyard Haven harbor would likely cost a minimum of $400,000, and Lake Tashmoo, at least another $150,000. The town can no longer count on state funds, which covered about three-quarters of the cost in the past, Mr. Wilbur told The Times in a follow-up phone conversation yesterday.
The selectmen agreed that the dredge issue should be discussed in depth at a later meeting.
In an update on the old fire station, Hillary Conklin, the selectmen’s administrative secretary, said its demolition would likely take place sometime between mid-January to early February. Asbestos removal will take two to three days. The selectmen made tentative plans to hold a public hearing regarding parking options on the cleared site.
In other business, the selectmen voted to approve amendments to the town’s shellfish regulations to include definitions for a standard bushel basket and gang dredge; the appointment of Ned Orleans to his tenth term on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission; a beer and wine license application from Café Moxie; and vacation and renovation closing dates for Little House Café, which has a year-round beer and wine license, from December 23 to January 3, and February 18 to March 17.
Because their next regularly scheduled meeting would fall on the Christmas holiday, the selectmen will meet on December 18 instead. They also will meet again before the end of the year to discuss department budgets for fiscal year 2014 and annual town meeting warrant articles, which are due January 9. Selectman chairman Tristan Israel’s suggestion that they meet on New Year’s Eve did not get a ringing endorsement from Mr. Kristal and Mr. Snyder.