West Tisbury selectmen ruminate on committees
At their regular weekly meeting last week, the West Tisbury selectmen continued to consider, but did not name, members of the poet laureate selection committee and the committee to evaluate town space needs and resources. Surprising to the selectmen was moderator Pat Gregory's opinion that voters had asked him to name still another committee to study solutions to the question of town office space.
The annual town meeting on April 11, the same meeting that effectively ended the long-suffering town hall renovation project, ordered the selectmen in Article 19 to create a new committee to study all town space needs and resources, including town hall. The article was proposed by the capital improvements planning committee (CIPC), made up of representatives of the financial management team and several town boards.
Kathy Logue, town treasurer and chairman of the CIPC, reported that only two or three of her committee were willing to serve on the proposed seven-member committee. When selectman Glenn Hearn, also a member of the CIPC, announced that he is unwilling to serve on the new committee, that left only town accountant Bruce Stone (ex officio) and a somewhat reluctant Al DeVito of the finance committee. That meant, Ms. Logue computed, five slots needed to be filled "at large" by the selectmen.
The selectmen will advertise the position over the next two weeks, stressing that the town is looking for individuals with expertise in planning and in construction. Ms. Logue and others said that there is already some interest. Executive secretary Jen Rand reported that she has already received a letter of interest from Bea Phear, and others reported that engineer Kent Healy has expressed a willingness to serve. Les Cutler, outspoken critic of the defunct renovation project, is reported to be interested. Mr. Cutler has extensive experience with large construction projects.
In an opinion that seemed to be a surprise to the selectmen, town moderator Pat Gregory commented that he understood the article proposed and amended by former selectman John Alley (Article 38, rescinding the $3.7-million appropriation) also instructed him to name a committee to consider what to do about town hall. Selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter responded that neither the wording of the original warrant article nor Mr. Alley's amendment from the floor specifically mentioned a new committee. Mr. Manter conceded that he did recall Mr. Alley mentioning a new committee, but only in arguing for his proposal, not in the wording of the actions voted by the meeting. (Ms. Rand subsequently confirmed that Mr. Manter's recollection is correct.)
Mr. Hearn noted that since the voters had already created a new committee in Article 19, they cannot have intended to imply one by Article 38.
Mr. Gregory replied that he has checked with Mr. Alley and that a new committee was "Mr. Alley's intent," even if not actually in his motions. However, Mr. Gregory said that he was not asking to appoint a separate committee, but only to be consulted in the naming of the committee proposed by the CIPC.
The selectmen decided to continue their plan to advertise for candidates for the Article 19 committee and to confer with Mr. Gregory.
The poet laureate committee
It turns out that the only thing harder than naming a West Tisbury poet laureate is naming a West Tisbury committee to name the honoree. At last week's selectmen's meeting, the selectmen came close to naming a committee to select a committee to name a laureate.
Cynthia Riggs's offer, the previous week, of the Howes House Writers as the selection committee, has received little support from the selectmen, though chairman John Early read into the record a letter supporting that choice from Pia Webster, executive secretary of the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council (MVCC) and former West Tisbury executive secretary.
At the previous meeting, the selectmen had expressed an interest in appointing the West Tisbury members of the MVCC as the selection committee, but members Dan Waters and Andrea Hartman were on hand to say that they do not want the assignment, explaining that the MVCC is chiefly a funding body and tries hard not to impose its artistic tastes on the Island (or, in this case, West Tisbury).
Mr. Waters, a West Tisbury poet himself, suggested that the staff of the West Tisbury library would have expertise in the area. He noted that the United States poet laureate is chosen by the director of the Library of Congress. Members of the library board who were at the meeting expressed interest, but they had some reservations. The matter was left that the library trustees would consult with the library staff, discuss the matter at their next meeting on May 11, and report back to the selectmen.
Fortunately, West Tisbury is not currently experiencing a poetry emergency which requires the services of its laureate.
Friends of the parking lot
In other business, the selectmen considered a recommendation that a portion of the library parking lot be paved with a newly-designed porous material, which is hard enough to resist wear but allows water to flow freely through. Mr. Healy recommends that the material be poured over a bed of sand, to allow drainage. He and Superintendent of streets Richard Olsen brought a dictionary-sized block of the material to the meeting, which is poured from a cement truck, like other forms of concrete.
Mr. Olsen suggested that an 1100-square-foot semi-circle near the book drop be paved as an experiment, at an estimated total cost of "less than $5,000." The porous paving material itself will cost about $1,200, he said.
The selectmen had several questions about the material. What would a snow plow do to the surface? Could it become plugged with sand? Mr. Olsen and Mr. Healy said that they did not know the answers, as the material is new. They suggested that the first area should be considered an experiment.
Mr. Stone reported that the funds for library parking lot repair are down to about $1,000. However, the selectmen felt that other sources could be made available, including Mr. Olsen's budget and fund transfers. There are also, several people commented, the Friends of the Howes House and the Friends of the Library, both of whom might be asked to help. That prompted Mr. Early to suggest that what is needs is a "Friends of the Parking Lot." Perhaps the selectmen will appoint a committee. Or not.