Tisbury mulls Water St. project
An update on department of public works (DPW) projects topped the Tisbury selectmen's agenda Tuesday. Discussion focused mainly on the Water Street parking lot project, which has been in the planning stages since August 2005.
In a best-case scenario, the selectmen hoped to have the project completed before summer. But faced with the reality of time and seasonal constraints outlined by DPW director Fred LaPiana and the public works commissioners, they reluctantly concluded the project may have to be shelved until fall.
The postponement of December's special town meeting to Feb. 20 delayed a vote on the project's funding and start-up. As Mr. LaPiana pointed out, if voters do approve the parking lot funding next week, that leaves only about eight weeks from bid to completion before Memorial Day and the startup of the summer season. However, he and the DPW commissioners told the selectmen that completing work on Main Street is their department's springtime priority.
In parking lot discussions over the past year, friction developed between the DPW and selectmen concerning how much of the project would be handled by Mr. LaPiana.
If Mr. LaPiana oversaw the project and subcontracted work to companies with which Tisbury already has contracts, he said it would cost the town less money.
Otherwise, a general contractor would charge a fee for overseeing the project, as well as marking up the subcontractors' fees, Mr. LaPiana said.
Selectman Tom Pachico reiterated his position that the project should be put out to bid regardless, because the DPW is not in the business of building parking lots.
Town administrator John Bugbee told the selectmen they had two options, putting the project out to bid to complete by Memorial Day, with Mr. LaPiana stepping aside, or having him act as the general contractor in the fall, using town bids for subcontractor work. He suggested getting bids for both options and comparing the costs. Mr. Bugbee said he knew of two or three companies that said they could get the job done by summer.
Mr. LaPiana and the DPW commissioners assured Mr. Israel they would have no objection if the selectmen went ahead with the project.
The meeting also included a presentation of the final parking lot plans by architect David O'Connor of the Cecil Group. He responded first to a request made by the selectmen last month on behalf of Tisbury Waterways to look at the option of adding bio-swales, vegetative areas that would act as a natural filter for runoff from the parking lot and help reduce harbor pollution.
The Cecil Group engineers gave the idea careful consideration but concluded the amount of runoff that could occur in the parking lot would destroy bio-swales. Selectman Tom Pachico suggested using underground catch basins instead, keeping drainage and landscaping separate.
Mr. LaPiana suggested adding a concrete pad for the truck parking area next to Stop and Shop to reduce asphalt wear and tear. He also recommended matching the parking lot curbing and sidewalks to those used on Main Street for aesthetic value, even though it might cost more.
In discussing material options and costs, Mr. Bugbee estimated the project will cost about $340,000 to $400,000, to which Stop and Shop contributed $120,000 and will pay an annual maintenance fee. Selectman Tom Pachico reminded everyone it started as a simple repaving job. While all of the improvements would be wonderful, he said, "It comes with a price-tag - we keep adding to the project and adding to the cost."
In discussion about other projects, Mr. LaPiana said negotiations are in progress with Island Food Products (IFP) regarding a parcel of land needed for the proposed connector road project between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road. In the meantime, Mr. LaPiana said he will submit an article for the annual town meeting warrant requesting funds for surveying the property, depending on the outcome with IFP.
After discussing the poor condition of the old DPW shed near the Tisbury town hall annex across from Tisbury School, the selectmen approved taking the building down, after first advertising the materials as free to anyone who wants to remove them.
In the town administrator's report, Mr. Bugbee announced he received a bid for $5,500 to complete a fire department personnel study from consultant Chuck Hale of Research Management in Chicago. He will look at staffing, management, operations, and the organization of the Tisbury Fire Department in consideration of fire chief John Schilling's proposal to make the fire chief a full-time town employee. The selectmen approved hiring Mr. Hale, who will visit the fire department from March 8 to 10.
In other regular business, the selectmen approved keeping betterment fees for sewage system hook-ups the same. They also agreed to use $160,000 appropriated at last town meeting for town hall repairs to replace the building's boiler and stabilize the steeple.
In response to a recommendation from the Finance and Advisory Committee, the selectmen voted to put any warrant spending articles over $10,000 into overrides. They also discussed putting the difference in school funds required by the new state wealth-based school assessment formula into an override article, and plan to look at their options.
Mr. Israel reported that at a recent All-Island Selectmen's meeting on the school formula issue, the sentiment among many of the selectmen was that the Island should hold off on adopting the state formula. While Tisbury's assessment would increase by $223,483, Oak Bluffs's assessment would decrease by $269,758. The Oak Bluffs selectmen said they might consider sticking with the current regional school assessment formula if the other Island towns chipped in to make up the difference in taxes that the town does not receive for the high school and hospital properties.
Although Mr. Israel said he thought that might be a fair compromise, Mr. Pachico retorted, "I was thinking more of the word 'blackmail.'" The All-Island Selectmen will meet again on Feb. 21 for further discussion, Mr. Israel said.