Oak Bluffs administrator resigns
Casey Sharpe, Oak Bluffs town administrator, resigned Tuesday. Ms. Sharpe, widely respected by town officials, told selectmen of her decision during an executive session prior to the start of their Tuesday night meeting.
"It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce to you that we just accepted the resignation of Casey Sharpe," Duncan Ross, chairman of the selectmen, announced at the start of the meeting. "She will be moving on. The board of selectmen wish her well, and we know that she will do well, because she has been one excellent town administrator."
Ms. Sharpe served as the town's executive secretary for two years and as its town administrator for almost four years. She received a standing ovation Tuesday from the selectmen, town officials and community members in appreciation for a job well done.
In an e-mail yesterday, Ms. Sharpe said she would remain in her job at least 60 days to help with the transition, and does not plan to leave the Island. She said she has a longstanding history with the town, going back to 1954, when she spent her first summer in Oak Bluffs.
She described her decision to leave as bittersweet, with the explanation, "I'm leaving my dream job to get a life."
The announcement came as no surprise to several present and former town officials, who said it stemmed in part from what they described as repeated meddling in Ms. Sharpe's day-to-day operations by some of the selectmen.
Selectman Ross confirmed that friction with Ms. Scott played a part in Ms. Sharpe's decision to resign. "It did contribute, and I have no additional comment after that," Mr. Ross said.
While most of those who shared this view declined to speak on the record, Richard Combra Sr., a former long-serving Oak Bluffs selectman and school committee member who worked with Ms. Sharpe and remains well versed in town affairs, did not.
Mr. Combra said he believes that the behavior of selectman Kerry Scott contributed to Ms. Sharpe's departure. "I have been observing and have had conversations with people, and I am aware there has been a pretty deep division within the board of selectmen," said Mr. Combra. "Casey has unfortunately borne the brunt of it ... I'm not there on a daily basis, but I do hear from people and have seen some public behavior on the part of Ms. Scott, in particular, directed at Casey, that I think has been totally inappropriate, and that I'm sure contributed to her leaving."
An example of the division within the five selectmen occurred following the April 13 town election, when Mr. Ross, Michael Dutton, and Gregory Coogan refused to pass the chairmanship of the board to Ms. Scott, who was supported only by Roger Wey. In a phone conversation yesterday, Ms. Scott said she believed she was passed over for the chairmanship because she differed with the selectmen publicly at the annual town meeting over a proposal for a land swap. Nevertheless, Ms. Scott said, any notion that she and Ms. Sharpe did not get along is incorrect.
"There has never been anything but the most cordial relationship between Casey and me," she said. "I was absolutely thunderstruck by her resignation. Casey Sharpe is one of the most brilliant people I've ever met. She could run IBM. The problem is, you can't run towns like corporations."
Accusations of interference by selectmen with town administrators have dogged Oak Bluffs in the past. Ms. Sharpe's predecessor, Katie Nunez, said her difficult relationship with former selectman Linda Marinelli was the reason she resigned.
Ms. Sharpe was appointed the town's executive secretary in December 1999. She resigned in June 2001 to become the assistant to the superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools. One of the replacements hired to fill Ms. Sharpe's position left after only one day on the job.
The executive secretary position was changed to a town administrator position by town meeting action in April 2002. Ms. Sharpe came back to familiar territory in July 2002, when she resigned from the superintendent's office and was appointed town administrator.
In reflecting on her work in Oak Bluffs and what she achieved, Ms. Sharpe wrote in her e-mail, "In six years, we've had great accomplishments. Some physical - a beautiful new library, a potential swap for a wonderful town hall building at no little or no cost to taxpayers in our future - many internal, including recruiting and retaining a truly professional staff, and excellent department heads, and overall, helping to make Oak Bluffs a great place to live and work, and town hall a place that supports and respects all taxpayers."
Ms. Sharpe holds a bachelor of arts degree from UMass-Amherst and a juris doctorate from Boston College Law School. She said she has not decided what she will do next.
Several people praised Ms. Sharpe at Tuesday's meeting for her service to the town. "I don't know how we'll get along without you," said Renee Balter, executive director of the Oak Bluffs Association.
The selectmen learned from the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission of an application by the Lampost on Circuit Avenue for a Keno license. Co-owner Adam Cummings said the game would offer patrons another activity while waiting for pool tables. The selectmen had no objections, so a hearing will not be necessary.
Police Chief Erik Blake relayed a request from the parking and traffic committee to designate a new free route for the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) to run from the Oak Bluffs School to downtown over the summer as a park and ride service. Mr. Ross suggested adding stops at the library and town hall, which Chief Blake said he would discuss with the VTA.
Terry Appenzellar, a member of the Community Development Council, proposed that the council assist the selectmen with planning for the land swaps and town campus proposals put forth at town meeting. She also requested approval for drawing up plans for a children's rain garden near Sengekontacket Pond. The selectmen approved both.
In other business, the selectmen also approved:
a change of location for Balance Restaurant to the former "Game Room" building across the street from Flying Horses in spring 2007; closing Circuit Avenue on Wednesday, June 21, from 6 pm to 11 pm, for a summer solstice festival; hiring a service to provide a border collie to rid Ocean Park of Canada geese; providing free trash bags at town hall to encourage participation in an Island-wide beach cleanup day on Saturday, 10 am to noon; eight flea markets to be held by Featherstone Center for the Arts during July and August; entertainment license renewals for the Island House and Lampost.