Site problems derail proposal for Tisbury's emergency services facility
Only a week before voters will consider warrant articles at a special town meeting, the fire chief raised serious questions about a possible emergency services facility site on High Point Lane at Tisbury's board of selectmen meeting on Tuesday night.
The High Point Lane site is one of two finalists recommended by the emergency services committee, headed up by John Schilling, fire chief, for the location of a proposed new fire and ambulance service facility, and possibly a new police station, as well.
The site is favored by the selectmen and the town's finance and advisory committee because of its location on town-owned land between the water tower and department of public works building. The alternative site, located on Evelyn Way off State Road, would require purchasing land or taking it by eminent domain.
Chief Schilling said that he met with representatives of the water department last Monday to discuss plans for the proposed emergency services facility (ESF). "We discovered some obstacles at the site," he said, which included grading issues and the location of some water mains and a water tank.
While Deacon Perotta, the water department superintendent, said it might be possible to move two water mains that would be located under the proposed ESF, one 16-inch water main leading to a 1.6 million-gallon tank cannot be relocated. "I don't know if I'd want a 16-inch water main in the backdoor of the firehouse," said Mr. Perotta.
John Bugbee, town administrator, said he had spoken to the architect for the project, who assured him there were other options that could make the High Point Lane site workable, although it might not be possible to put both a fire and police station there. Mr. Bugbee reminded the selectmen that delaying a decision to begin the project will drive its costs up by 5 to 6 percent annually.
Selectman Tristan Israel questioned why there was not an article asking for voters to approve the facility itself, before asking them to pick a site and to appropriate $400,000 for a project manager. Ray LaPorte, board chair, said him article one, which asks for funds to procure an architect/design firm and project manager services, serves to indicate public approval for proceeding with the project.
The selectmen debated whether the articles regarding funding for a project manager for the emergency services facility and the two site location articles should remain on the warrant or be tabled at the meeting to be taken up again next spring.
On Wednesday, Chief Schilling said, "It is my understanding that we won't be going forward with the selection of a site at the town meeting next week. We do not have all the answers at this time about the sites, and we, as a committee, need to fulfill our due diligence in providing details about what is fully involved at the sites."
In the meantime, Chief Schilling said consulting funds remain available for the emergency services committee, and they will meet to address the new issues concerning the sites.
In other business, Mr. Bugbee said that four community members had offered to serve on a committee to consider the sale of beer and wine in Vineyard Haven restaurants. The selectmen, seeking to appoint a balanced committee, agreed they would continue to advertise for more members. Those interested should contact them in writing by early December. Mr. Israel also made an appeal to the audience and TV viewers for volunteers to serve on a dog park committee.
The selectmen also revisited the subject of the Water Street parking lot, next to Stop and Shop. Mr. Bugbee told them that town counsel had advised him it was unnecessary to put out a request for proposals for a consultant and asked the selectmen for their direction. Noting that they had already approved a concept for the parking lot, Mr. LaPorte said, "We need the best expertise we can get. This is not an isolated lot. It has to interact successfully with Water Street, the Steamship Authority, and the police and ambulance services."
The selectmen agreed that they would stick to the concept they picked and allow Mr. Bugbee to solicit bids from consultants. "I don't want to start all over again. We spent six months to get to a very vague plan," Mr. Israel joked.
In other business, Theodore Saulnier, chief of police, told the selectmen he could not provide full-time coverage in the traffic circle requested by the Vineyard Transit Authority unless he hired three new officers. "We won't do anything until site issues are addressed by the Steamship Authority," Mr. LaPorte said.
At the meeting's end, with only members of the press in attendance, Mr. Pachico lashed out against what he considered unfair media coverage, particularly in The Times, regarding his representation on the port council. He said the council, in spite of what The Times says, is supposed to represent the whole Island, not act as a sounding board for Island businesses.
He added that he did not appreciate a report of his absence from meeting of the Tisbury Business Association, which he said "made it sound like I was delinquent in my duties."
Asked about Rep. Eric Turkington's amendment to a bill providing $40,000 for traffic control at Five Corners and whether they supported using State tax dollars for that purpose, Mr. Israel and Mr. Pachico both said they considered the funds similar to grant money. Mr. LaPorte said, "We have more important issues to deal with than embarkation fees."