Tisbury selectmen face planning issues
Tisbury's selectmen focused on the future at a meeting Tuesday night, turning attention to town hall repairs and renovations, downtown Vineyard Haven municipal properties, and comprehensive Island-wide planning.
With heating system repairs and other major maintenance projects looming for Tisbury's town hall and annex, town administrator John Bugbee asked the selectmen for some direction in considering long-term plans for the municipal headquarters.
In light of the town's recent proposals to build a new emergency services facility and possibly a new police station, Ray LaPorte, chairman of the selectmen, questioned how much more the taxpayers would be willing to spend.
"This is a political question," said Mr. LaPorte. "What can the community bear for the costs of large projects such as this? I have no trouble pushing ahead to the next level, design and site planning, but I don't know how we can do it without being rebuffed by the town."
As it now stands, funding the replacement of town hall's boiler, steeple, and windows will have to be addressed at the next town meeting, said Mr. LaPorte. His fellow selectman, Tristan Israel, said he hoped that Community Preservation Act funds could be used for town hall repairs and maintenance.
With the building of a new emergency services facility, the town will have a vacant fire station and possibly a vacant police station, as well. Any consideration of moving the town offices to another location should include a strategic plan for all of Tisbury's municipal properties, said Henry Stephenson, a member of the planning board. Mr. LaPorte tasked Mr. Stephenson with drafting the plan over the next few months.
In the meantime, the selectmen will solicit public opinion about Tisbury's long-range plans through a survey mailed out with the town's quarterly tax bills in December.
In addition to town planning, Mark London, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), asked the selectmen to support the efforts of his organization's new 20-member steering committee in developing a comprehensive Island plan. He expects the process to take about two years.
Mr. London encouraged the selectmen and the public to offer their suggestions on what direction the Island's development should take to the committee, which includes representatives from every town. He also asked what specific issues Tisbury has, to which Mr. LaPorte jokingly replied, "We've heard at certain times of the year, there's a seasonal issue related to traffic."
Mr. Israel told Mr. London that the selectmen would like the MVC to get involved in studying the intersections at State Road/Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and Five Corners. Reminding the selectman that the MVC already has already done an extensive study, Mr. London advised considering the roads as part of the town's whole planning picture. He and the selectmen agreed to arrange a meeting with representatives from the Steamship Authority, Tisbury's planning board, and town departments.
Mr. Bugbee stressed the need for more immediate traffic solutions. "We want short-term elements as part of the plan, so we have the opportunity to try the ideas out," he said. "We hope to implement some of them this summer. We don't want another season to go by like the last."
In other business, Mr. Israel proposed sending a letter in support of Rep. Eric Turkington's amendment to a supplemental budget bill that will give Tisbury $40,000 for police protection at Five Corners during the summer of 2006.
"I'm disinclined to support it without reading it first," said Mr. LaPorte. Although Mr. Israel assured him there was nothing in the bill but the funds for Tisbury and continued to press him about supporting it, Mr. LaPorte held firm and ended the discussion.
The selectmen did agree, however, to send a letter to Dukes County protesting the costly delays in the fuel oil bid process. Because the county put out the bid incorrectly and it had to be redone, fuel oil prices rose during the delay, costing taxpayers an additional $100,000 by the time a contract was signed.
In reports from town departments, fire chief John Schilling announced that his department will receive a Homeland Security grant totaling $110,000 for self-contained breathing apparatuses. The grant requires a five percent local match to be made within 12 months. Mr. Schilling will take up the matter of the town's share with the finance and advisory committee.
Regarding town projects, Fred LaPiana, director of the department of public works, said new sidewalks were completed on Main Street from the movie theater down to Union Street. Although several people have expressed concern about the high curb height on the new walks, he said the problem cannot be fixed until next spring, when new sidewalks will be completed on the other side of the street and the road repaved.
Mr. LaPiana also is negotiating an easement to allow ambulances access to Cromwell Lane in anticipation of Water Street parking lot renovations. The selectmen approved a request for proposals for design work and engineering analysis for the parking lot.
In other business, the selectmen approved a Shellfish Trust transfer fund request from Derek Cimeno, Tisbury's shellfish constable, for $2,152 for a new boat trailer, and $500 for Tisbury's share of the cost of a channel marker to designate the town's boundary with Oak Bluffs in the Lagoon.