Building inspector: Fish house is a hazard

Inspector puts fate of Packer-owned building in hands of selectmen.

The dilapidated fish house on the R.M. Packer property must be removed, according to the town's building inspector.

Calling it a “dangerous structure,” Tisbury building inspector Ken Barwick is asking selectmen to issue an order that a dilapidated fish house on the R.M. Packer property be removed.

The building is close to the harbor’s edge, and pieces of it break off during powerful storms like the one last weekend, causing a marine hazard in Vineyard Haven Harbor, according to Mr. Barwick’s letter to the company.

“The rapidly deteriorating condition of the structure continues to create debris fields associated with the structure being deposited on abutting properties and within the ‘harbor waters,’” Barwick’s letter states. “This action occurs during severe storm conditions and poses an ongoing public safety hazard. Because your property and premises interface with both the Beach Road corridor and Vineyard Haven Harbor, this activity must end immediately.”

The letter is dated Feb. 25, ahead of the most recent storms, but was hand-delivered to selectmen on Tuesday night. Barwick, in handing over the letter to selectmen, never mentioned the property by name, or whether Packer has received the letter. Neither Ralph Packer nor Barwick returned calls about the letter.

Discussion of the letter is on the board’s agenda for Thursday at 5:30 pm.

“The building is open to the weather, unsecured, and unsafe due to the building’s lack of maintenance,” Barwick wrote. “The property and premises are a visual nuisance not only to the abutting properties, but to the town as a whole.”

The letter states that Packer has until 12 noon following service of the notice to begin removing the “unsafe and dangerous structure” or make it “safe and secure.”

Barwick also notes his plan to bring the issue to the attention of selectmen. “If the board determines that public safety so requires, and it so orders, the inspector of buildings may be authorized to immediately enter upon the premises and cause the unsafe structure to be made safe or taken down,” he wrote. “The situation has now deteriorated to the point where immediate, preventive action is required.”

According to a 2016 evaluation of the building done by civil engineer Kent Healy, the building was constructed in 1965 for unloading and processing fish. “The building is now in poor condition, but could be restored as a usable building,” Healy concluded at the time.

The building is steel frame, and rests on a filled pier in Vineyard Haven Harbor, he wrote. “The pier has a perimeter of driven steel that has deteriorated badly,” he wrote.

Healy’s report also recommended replacing the existing roof, which had been battered by storms, with a steel roof system. “This should be done within a year,” he wrote in the letter dated Sept. 1, 2016.