Roberts Way will be open to Edgartown emergency responders evenings and weekends

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Concerned about response time to emergencies, Edgartown police and fire department officials are negotiating with the contractor building the new library to reopen Roberts Way. The contractor, Marion Construction of Providence, uses the road to enter the construction site and to stage materials.

The short street borders the construction site and provides a connection between the West Tisbury Road and Robinson Road, which is adjacent to the police and fire departments. It has been closed by permission of town officials, since July of 2013.

“It has been quite a hassle for us, as far as traffic backing up and getting to certain calls in that direction,” Police Chief Tony Bettencourt told selectmen at their regular Monday meeting. He said that police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks are delayed when they travel from the police or fire department headquarters along Peases Point Way to Cooke Street.

“It’s five stop signs to get up to West Tisbury Road, instead of one,” he said. “That’s a big difference.”

In negotiations with the company, town officials have come to a general agreement that Roberts Way will be reopened and remain clear of construction equipment each night from 5 pm until the next morning at 7 am, and open all weekend hours.

At issue, however, is the cost of new fencing required to secure the construction site. Town officials expect to work out the final details before Labor Day.

In other business, selectmen approved the hiring of two special police officers, both part-time, to fill the absence of Sgt. Kenneth Johnson, who will retire.

Town administrator Pam Dolby informed selectmen that the new owners of the Kelley House cut down a shade tree without permission. She said Stuart Fuller, the town highway superintendent and tree warden, ordered the hotel to remove the stump and replace the tree within 48 hours.

Town bylaws require selectmen to approve the removal of any shade tree, after a hearing before the board. Typically, selectmen only allow removal of diseased or dangerous trees, and other trees must be planted in their place.