The town’s board of selectmen have entered into a license agreement that will allow a sewer line to be moved on land at 20 Beach Road that will eventually become Bock Park.
The board voted 2-0, with selectman Tristan Israel participating by phone, but not voting on the license agreement.
That didn’t stop Israel, through his crackling mobile phone, from criticizing the license agreement. Israel has been critical since Ernie Boch Jr., the son of auto magnate Ernie Boch, first proposed the private park in Vineyard Haven.
“We could have given easement. He could have given us access. It did not have to be this way,” Israel said.
But selectman Melinda Loberg said the town attempted to use the easement as leverage, and Boch did not budge.
“I don’t feel like we can hold this up to extract public access,” Loberg said. “It is private property.”
Boch filed plans with the town that includes various plantings, flowers, fences, and a large patio-type area. He’s been clear that he won’t assume the liability to open the park to the public.
Town administrator Jay Grande told selectmen that the relocation of the sewer line benefits other buildings on the Vineyard Haven waterfront, and would allow one of them, which has just changed hands, to get some planned renovations. The town would like to get the sewer line moved in the next 60 days so that other work can be done, Grande said.
“My understanding from wastewater people in town is that it’s beneficial to move the sewer line,” he said.
Both Loberg and chairman Larry Gomez cautioned that the town should get some assurances about who is paying for the project before proceeding. Both want Boch or other property owners to pay for the sewer line to be moved.
After a conversation that followed the same pattern as others, Israel once again asked, “Who is benefiting from this relocation?”
“I think I’ve explained it,” Grande said.
To which Israel added that it was a rhetorical question.
The park hasn’t progressed much beyond some clearing and a construction fence erected around it to keep people out.
At a public appearance on the Island two weeks ago, Ernie Boch Jr. told The Times he hopes to begin work on the park soon. “My vision is to beautify Beach Road, and inspire others to do so,” he said.