EMS, trash facilities face Tisbury voters
The eleven-article warrant for Tisbury's special town meeting (STM) on Tuesday night requires voters to make some important decisions regarding the construction of a new emergency services facility and future recycling and refuse operations. The September 30 meeting starts at 7:30 pm at the Tisbury School gymnasium.
Three warrant articles relate to starting the process to build a new emergency services facility (ESF) to house the fire, ambulance, and civil defense/emergency management departments.
The town's ESF committee has been working for almost four years to come up with an acceptable site that fits the criteria for size, accessibility, and location.
The ESF committee conducted an exhaustive search for possible properties, including both town-owned parcels and parcels available for purchase. The committee narrowed its choices down to four sites, and then eliminated three based on grading issues, high purchase costs, eminent domain issues, and lack of egress.
At the April 2007 town meeting, voters rejected an article put forth by the selectmen and ESF committee recommending that the town purchase 1.5 acres near Oak Grove Cemetery on State Road for $1.65 million as the site for a new facility. In discussion at the meeting, several voters said they objected to the town buying property instead of using parcels already owned.
The right site
Article one on next week's STM warrant asks voters to approve locating a new ESF at the current town hall annex site at 215 Spring Street across the street from Tisbury School.
"Although we were disappointed when the town voted against purchasing the State Road property last year, we believe this is the best choice of town-owned property," said ESF committee chairman Hillary Conklin in a phone call last week.
The ESF committee hired the Maguire Group, an architectural consulting firm from Foxboro, to look at the annex site and determine whether it would be adequate for the space requirements of the fire and ambulance departments, as well as extras such as a polling place and meeting space.
Planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson said the Maguire Group came back with a report that said the site would work, and also provided a diagram floor plan. However, Mr. Stephenson cautioned, it does not represent a finished proposal or plan for any building yet.
"In developing a project like that, we'll want to spend a lot of time with personnel from the fire and ambulance departments," Mr. Stephenson said. "What we're doing now is trying to select that particular site."
The selectmen, planning board members, ESF committee members, and emergency services personnel met on September 9 with Tisbury school representatives, who expressed concerns about safety issues.
"What I heard is that the selectmen are 100 percent committed to addressing our concerns," said Principal Richard Smith after the meeting. "I'm not sure if anyone has a solution yet but the town should get a vote first and see if that site will even get approval before putting the time and effort into making plans for it."
On Sept. 16, the Tisbury selectmen held a public forum at the conclusion of Parents' Night at Tisbury School to offer another opportunity to address questions and concerns about ESF issues.
"All the concerned parties were there last night to represent their commitment - I think things went well," said Fire Chief John Schilling in a phone call the next day. "People at the school obviously have questions. The point we're at is that this is the site that works right now for us - if town commits to this, we'll begin in earnest in resolving the issues."
In addition to voting on the site, article two asks voters to authorize borrowing $640,000 to fund the costs of architectural and engineering services related to a new ESF, including design, planning, project management, oversight, and construction administration.
In the event voters approve the town hall annex site, article eleven, submitted by the planning board, addresses plans for relocating the displaced offices and personnel, which include the planning board, board of health, building inspector, and zoning board of appeals, possibly to a new municipal office/garage facility that would be constructed near the DPW on High Point Lane.
Since the warrant was posted, however, the selectmen have requested that the Planning Board consider tabling the article on town meeting floor to allow more time to explore alternatives to committing any funds to the High Point Lane option. Alternatives might include purchasing commercial space, leasing commercial space or utilizing the Tisbury Senior Center property to accommodate a new structure. The Planning Board planned to consider the selectmen's request at a meeting last night.
In addition to the ESF issues, article three addresses another big-ticket item, with the cost yet to be determined. Voters will be asked to authorize the selectmen to enter into an agreement with Oak Bluffs to use $406,708 already available in a joint fund towards a three-year lease on three parcels of land totaling about 11 acres adjacent to the Martha's Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District (MVRDRRD) transfer station in Edgartown, across from the airport. The joint fund accrues from a surcharge levied on a per ton basis for the purpose of maintaining the Oak Bluffs and Tisbury transfer station facility.
The 11-acre parcel is considered crucial to enlarging the Edgartown facility to permit the consolidation of Island-wide refuse and recycling operations. According to a recent study regarding the possibility of consolidating Martha's Vineyard's waste management, staff at the state Department of Environmental Protection indicated they would only support site assignment for the 11-acre parcel.
The proposed lease agreement also includes the option to purchase the property any time during or at the end of the three years, for $1.4 million. The lease payments, $100,000 annually, plus a one-time additional payment would be applied to the purchase price, for a total of approximately $406,708.
If both Tisbury and Oak Bluffs participate in the lease and purchase as agreed, the cost will be about $700,000 per town.
However, to cover all contingencies so that the opportunity to purchase the property will not be lost, article three also asks voters to authorize the selectmen to borrow up to $1.2 million to purchase the land, in the worst-case scenario where Tisbury might have to make the purchase alone.
In the meantime, the MVRDRRD and the Oak Bluffs-Tisbury District have entered into discussions about forming a regional waste management district.
Connector road progress
Article ten, submitted by the board of public works commissioners, relates to a connector road between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road approved by voters in 2005. The article asks voters to accept a 30-foot road easement on three parcels that abut Short Hill Road, which connects Holmes Hole Road to town-owned land, according to Tisbury department of public works director Fred LaPiana.
The article also requests approval for a swap of about 5,000 square feet of town property. "The easement for the first two parcels involves just road layout negotiations," Mr. LaPiana explained in a phone call Monday. "The third easement involves our connector road going substantially through someone's property - in return, that landowner would like land equal to the amount we're using."
Taking care of business
Article six, submitted by the Vineyard Haven Library Board of Trustees, proposes amending the makeup of the town cabinet to include one of its members. The change would increase the number of cabinet members from nine to ten.
Article seven calls for amending the town meeting bylaw to change the starting time from 7:30 pm to 7 pm.
The remaining articles address some municipal financial housekeeping matters, such as paying remaining fiscal year 2008 bills, transferring previously appropriated funds for renovations to the Tashmoo Springs Building, and appropriating and transferring funds for refuse operations.