Windemere and Eversource updates punctuate MVC hearing on OB town hall

Public commentary and correspondence on proposed building slim to none.

Oak Bluffs officials and project architects join Oak Bluffs residents at a DRI hearing on the proposed Oak Bluffs town hall rebuild last week. —Rich Saltzberg

Prior to a hearing for the new Oak Bluffs Town Hall last Thursday night, Martha’s Vineyard Commission executive director Adam Turner updated those gathered about Windemere and Eversource. Mr. Turner said he met with Martha’s Vineyard Hospital interim CEO Tim Walsh earlier in the day about impending changes to Windemere, Wildflower Court specifically, in relation to commission decisions from 1991 and 2006.

“He agreed that all changes have to be vetted by the commission but that they haven’t actually come to an agreement as to what the changes are going to be other than to stop the service because they’re losing a lot of money,” Mr. Turner said. “They haven’t made any decisions as to what those spaces are going to be at Windemere and whether they’re going to remain as they are or be changed. And that probably would wait until the new CEO came in which would be December.”

The hospital will go before the commission at that time and also to put that agreement to do so in writing, Mr. Turner said. Mr. Turner also said he spoke at length with Mr. Walsh about the hospital’s desire to work toward more affordable housing and “housing in general” for hospital employees.

Mr. Turner revealed that after exhaustive efforts to reach Eversource, he’s made contact.

“We’ve been real active in the herbicide area — working with our allies to try to get some information first of all. We’ve written dozens of letters. We’ve still not gotten information from the state or Eversource. It’s especially critical because Eversource’s notices are very general.” The vagueness of the Eversource notices hampers the ability of those adjacent to the spraying from leaving the area at spray time, should they choose to, Mr. Turner said.

“I want to be very positive with them. I want to really talk about what they want to do and see if we can come to some agreement that represents what they want to do and what we want to do. I don’t think it has to be adversarial.

“Should they insist on going forward with the spraying, there’s a question that everybody’s asking — whether they’re going to be more specific on the notice,” Oak Bluffs selectman Gail Barmakian said. “Will abutters have notice and that question needs to be answered?” She asked Mr. Turner to press Eversource to answer that question.

“I’ll do that,” he said, “but I think the answer is no.”

Oak Bluffs’ bid to demolish its existing town hall and erect a three-story, 21,000-square-foot replacement was the subject of a development of regional impact (DRI) hearing following Mr. Turner’s updates and commenced with a long overview of the project by commission staffer Paul Foley. Overseen by commissioner Linda Sibley, the hearing featured no public comment outside Island officials or professionals associated with the project, who were overwhelmingly positive. The commission’s staff report on the project noted that no correspondence on the project was received to date.