Tisbury selectmen approve community grant application

The Tisbury selectmen in a meeting Tuesday reviewed and discussed the town’s fiscal 2014 community development strategy (CDS) with Christine Flynn, economic development and affordable housing coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

As in years past, Ms. Flynn is assisting Tisbury, as well as grant writer Alice Boyd of Bailey Boyd Associates, in the FY 2014 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application process.

She explained that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program provides money for housing rehabilitation and child care subsidy programs for income-qualified homeowners and families on Martha’s Vineyard. CDBG funds are channeled through Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, which are the two lead communities for the program and pay the cost to apply for the grants. Ms. Flynn said Edgartown partners with Chilmark and Aquinnah, and West Tisbury every third year, and Oak Bluffs partners with Tisbury in applying for the grant.

“This is one of the few great examples of regional cooperation between all towns,” she noted. “Over the past 12 years, the Island has received over $18 million in Community Development Block Grant funds, 350 homes have been rehabbed, and about 150 families have received child care subsidies. It’s estimated each year, at least 100 jobs in the construction industry have been created as a result of this program.”

As required for the yearly CDBG application, Ms. Flynn prepared a six-page CDS document outlining Tisbury’s community development goals and objectives in four areas — open space, transportation, economic development, and affordable housing. Selectman Jon Snyder complimented her on a job well done.

Selectman Tristan Israel asked how the grant fund recipients are selected. Ms. Flynn said The Resource Inc. (TRI), a nonprofit community development corporation, administers the program and determines whether applicants are income-qualified. If so, they are put on a list and selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mr. Israel said he would like to know more about the selection process. Ms. Flynn said TRI will hold information sessions about that this fall, and she would get back to him with the dates, which will also be advertised. Mr. Israel said he thought TRI should come to a selectmen’s meeting and explain it.

Keeping it local

Selectman chairman Jeff Kristal questioned how much of the grant money is paid out to Ms. Boyd and TRI, and how much is utilized on the Island, in terms of local workers and locally purchased supplies. “I’m not begrudging anybody anything, but if we could keep another 20 or 30 percent on Island, I would love to keep more of that money here,” he said.

“TRI actually has other people on the list of contractors that are from off Island, and they actually come over on the boat with materials that are not purchased here on the Island, and were not, sometimes in the past, using subcontractors here,” Mr. Kristal added.

“We’re fortunate that Melissa Vincent, who is the TRI coordinator, lives on Island and is an Edgartown resident and is very sensitive to local economic needs,” Ms. Flynn said, “And in fact, she has tried to hire local contractors and subcontractors whenever possible.”

Mr. Kristal asked if there is an issue with Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) certification on the Island, which Massachusetts requires of contractors and subcontractors that work on projects funded by state grants. If there are local companies that aren’t eligible to perform the work because of that, he suggested the county or towns should do something to help address that.

Ms. Flynn said she would look into the matter. The selectmen voted unanimously to approve the CDBG application.

Scallop season opening dates

In departmental reports, shellfish constable Danielle Ewart recommended dates for opening the recreational and commercial scallop seasons, which the selectmen approved.

Recreational permit holders may scallop in Vineyard Haven harbor beginning October 19. Commercial fishermen must wait until October 21.

The Lagoon will be opened to recreational scalloping on November 2. Commercial fishermen must wait until November 4. Tashmoo will be opened November 30 to recreational scallopers and December 2 for commercial fishermen.

Ms. Ewart reminded everyone that the recreational permit limit is one level bushel basket a week. The commercial limit is three level bushel baskets daily, Monday through Friday. Both commercial and recreational scallopers have from 7 am to 4 pm to get their limit.

Other business

The selectmen also approved Police Chief Dan Hanavan’s request to allow Special Officer Michael O’Rourke to self-sponsor himself to attend the state police academy full-time for six months. “He realizes that this is at his own expense and there is no promise of a job at the end of it,” Chief Hanavan said. “And he’s ready to accept that challenge and come back in six months with the full-time academy under his belt and continue to help our department. ”

Mr. O’Rourke graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and finished his criminal justice degree at Curry College a few years ago, Chief Hanavan said. He has worked for the police department since last year, and during that time became trained as an emergency medical technician.

In the town administrator’s report, Jay Grande said he wants to schedule a town cabinet meeting to begin preliminary discussions about the fiscal year 2015 budget and capital planning, in advance of the formal budget process that starts in December. Town treasurer Tim McLean advised that the meeting be scheduled soon and that the discussion should include revenue and ideas to increase it, as well.

Along those lines, Mr. McLean noted that the town recently received $25,000 for the months of July and August in its first check from the state from the meals tax. Tisbury voters at special town meeting last April voted to impose the local sales tax of .75 percent on restaurant meals. Voters also approved a two-percent increase, from four to six percent, allowed by the state on the local excise tax on room rentals in hotels and bed and breakfast establishments. Mr. McLean said the increase resulted in $95,000 in revenue this year, compared to $64,000 last year, for the same time period.

Mr. Grande also reported that the Board of Health (BOH) and health agent Tom Pachico are in debate about whether an additional permit is required for approving the use of a former compost site near the Department of Public Works for a solar array project. Building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick said he believes the question will be answered at the BOH meeting next Tuesday.

In other business, the selectmen voted to appoint Mr. Grande, Vineyard Transit Authority administrator Angela Grant, Planning Board co-chairman Henry Stephenson, Finance and advisory committee member Mary Ellen Larsen, and Randy Hart, director of transportation planning and engineering for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), Stop & Shop’s project design firm, to the town’s new Water Street parking lot planning and design committee.