Less one-way, more disagreement on Dukes County Avenue

The one-way barrier on Dukes County Avenue will be moved one block south, so the one-way section of the road ends at Warwick Avenue. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Oak Bluffs selectmen voted 3 to 1 Wednesday to reduce the one-way portion of Dukes County Avenue, so that traffic will flow in one direction from Wing Road to Warwick Avenue.

Currently, as part of an experimental traffic project, the one-way part of the roadway extends another block, to Masonic Avenue.

One year ago, selectmen agreed to make part of the narrow roadway one way to reduce parking congestion in front of Tony’s Market, and to improve safety at the intersection with Wing Road.

Selectmen Greg Coogan, Walter Vail, and Mike Santoro voted in favor of changing the traffic rules, which have proved very controversial among business owners in the commercial district and residents of nearby streets. Gail Barmakian voted against the motion. Kathy Burton did not attend the meeting.

“We don’t like the road being divided at all, we think it’s anti-business” said Alison Shaw, a photographer who owns a gallery in the town’s Arts District. “We see this as a compromise that improves the situation but is still not a permanent solution.”

In other matters, for the third meeting in the row, the board took up proposed regulations governing food trucks, but it took no action. In each of the three meetings, local business and restaurant owners packed the meeting room, along with supporters of food trucks.

The issue came to a head in May, when Oak Bluffs businessman Bill Coggins asked the board to license a food truck for the lot he purchased at 16 Circuit Avenue.

At Wednesday’s meeting, selectmen rejected a compromise offered by Mr. Coggins. He said if they allowed the Irie Bites food truck on his lot for the rest of the season, he would abide by any regulations the board establishes next year, without protest.

The current draft of the food truck regulations, would prohibit food trucks in the downtown area.

The Oak Bluffs Affordable Housing Trust, which consists of all members of the affordable housing committee and the board of selectmen, convened a meeting during the selectmen’s session. The trustees voted to spend an additional $24,000 from the trust fund, to supplement the $132,000 in Community Preservation Act funds approved by voters at the annual town meeting for the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority rental assistance program.