Sea View rehab effort hobbled; official criticized
The Oak Bluffs selectmen created the Sea View Waterfront Committee to fix a popular but deteriorating stretch of public beach. But infighting has left the committee paralyzed and in disarray.
Memos, emails, and conversations with committee members and town officials reflect personality conflicts and disputes over jurisdiction that have hampered efforts to restore areas of beach and sea wall along Sea View Avenue.
Several committee members who are also town officials said that Kerry Scott, chairman of the committee and a selectman, has repeatedly exceeded her authority, and in several instances engaged consultants at a cost to the town without the required authorization. It is a charge Ms. Scott denies.
Faced with a seawall that had collapsed onto the beach, significant structural problems with the roadway and coastal bank, and ever more scarce sources of funding for repairs, one year ago Oak Bluffs selectmen created the Sea View committee to help oversee the beach restoration effort.
At the time, town administrator Michael Dutton, the architect of the committee, said he foresaw it as the driving force behind making final recommendations to the parks commission and board of selectmen, initiating and running public hearings, and researching funding sources. He recommended the committee be comprised of eight members and that work be completed by December 1, 2008.
The selectmen appointed Ms. Scott chairman. The committee, made up of appointees drawn from a number of town boards and organizations, was expanded at the suggestion of Ms. Scott to 19 members.
The committee proved unwieldy from the start and was soon bogged down by personal conflicts, according to committee members. No minutes of the meetings were ever posted to the town's web site, or distributed.
Committee members, along with other town officials, have repeatedly objected to the lack of minutes, including the lack of recorded attendance at meetings.