Tisbury voters face big spending questions
At a meeting Tuesday night the Tisbury selectmen reviewed and approved an 11-article warrant for a special town meeting scheduled Sept. 30, at 7:30 pm, in the Tisbury School gym.
Three warrant articles relate to a proposed new emergency services facility (ESF) to house the town's fire, ambulance, and emergency management departments. Voters will be asked to approve the town hall annex property on Spring Street as the ESF site and to authorize borrowing money for the costs of architectural and engineering services.
A third article deals with designating property for a municipal office and garage facility to temporarily replace the town hall annex while the ESF is built. Dollar amounts for spending and borrowing articles will be finalized when the warrant is posted, no later than Sept. 16.
Before their regularly scheduled meeting, the selectmen met at 4 pm with a group that included Tisbury School principal Richard Smith and school committee members, superintendent of public schools James Weiss, planning board members, the fire and police chiefs, and the ESF Committee. Discussion focused on planning concerns and safety issues raised by the Tisbury School community regarding the possible location of the ESF across the street from the school.
In a follow-up to Tuesday's discussion, the selectmen agreed to a public forum at Tisbury School on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm, at the conclusion of Parents' Night to offer not only parents but also voters an opportunity to learn more about proposed plans for the ESF and to answer questions.
In other business, the selectmen debated what steps to take in support of two Main Street business owners whose establishments were destroyed by a July 4 fire. Selectman Jeffrey Kristal asked fellow selectmen Denys Wortman and Tristan Israel to sign a letter he wrote urging Café Moxie owner Paul Currier to finish up demolition and cleanup on his property so that Ann Nelson, who owns the Bunch of Grapes bookstore building next door, can move forward with her plans to rebuild, hopefully in time to open by next spring.
Selectman chairman Wortman said he spoke with Mr. Currier this week and that he is trying to do what he can, but his insurance check has been held up. Mr. Wortman cautioned that the selectmen should work toward the benefit of all parties, not just one. Mr. Israel suggested the selectmen might want to talk with Mr. Currier's bank and insurance company, as well. He and Mr. Wortman agreed to sign Mr. Kristal's letter.
In department reports, building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick said he and former Dukes County Engineer Stephen Berlucchi will meet with the design engineer and contractor of the Owen Park pier project for a final inspection on Sept. 20 at 9 am.
Mr. Barwick also discussed a proposal from WeatherFlow, a Florida-based company, about putting up a hurricane wind velocity monitoring system in Tisbury as part of a network throughout the Gulf and Atlantic coast areas to provide data to the National Hurricane Center. The system, valued at $25,000, is provided at no cost to the host town and runs on solar power.
Mr. Barwick said the proposed site for the 31-ft. pole and data collection device is in the Lagoon Pond boat ramp parking lot, away from Beach Road. The pole requires no steel, concrete or utility connection, Mr. Barwick said, and will not take up parking space. Mr. Israel suggested that the town's Conservation Commission should hold a public hearing about the project, and if approved, it should come back to the selectmen for final approval.
In a report from Department of Public Works (DPW), director Fred LaPiana said the Veterans Memorial Park project is in full swing. Sand fill is in place, drainage systems will be installed this week, and topsoil next week. In response to Mr. Wortman's question on behalf of Skiff Avenue residents who are concerned about truck traffic, Mr. LaPiana said to expect only about three or four more days of it next week.
While on the subject of the DPW, Mr. Israel took the opportunity to criticize a news story published in The Martha's Vineyard Times on August 28 ("Trash piles up in Vineyard Haven") that compared trash pick-up in the three down-Island towns.
The Times reported that an informal survey conducted by a Times reporter found that during roughly the same hours on the same days, Tisbury's trash barrels were consistently overflowing, while Oak Bluffs and Edgartown kept trash barrels emptied, including those in trouble spots near the ferry terminal in Oak Bluffs and around take-out restaurants that generate a lot of paper trash.
Mr. Israel said the story unfairly portrayed the public works department and Tisbury. By way of comparison, Mr. Israel said that Edgartown does not have ferry passenger traffic, which he said accounts for much of Tisbury's problem with trash.
Mr. LaPiana said that the board of public works commissioners recognizes that the public expects a certain level of cleanliness in a resort town. In the aftermath of the story, he said his department increased trash barrel pickups to twice a day during the busier seasons and would continue as needed.
Shellfish constable Derek Cimeno said he plans to attend a Massachusetts Shellfish Officers' Association meeting in advance of a Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries public hearing Thursday on an extension of the ban on harvesting herring from state herring runs.
Mr. Cimeno said he would recommend opening herring fishing again on Martha's Vineyard, with a limited catch of 5 to 6 herring a day. He said since herring return to where they spawn, the fish should be under local control.
In other business, Deborah Medders reported that Island artists submitted six designs in a town contest for a mural that will be produced on panels and attached to the wall of the Stop and Shop building facing the Water Street parking lot.
The mural designs will be on display for the public at the Vineyard Haven Library through September and also at the special town meeting on Sept. 30 at Tisbury School. The town's seven-member mural project committee and the selectmen will choose the winning design and award the artist a $1,000 stipend. Regarding progress on another town project, the selectmen approved a change order for funds to replace asphalt shingles with wooden ones around four dormers on the Spring Building and to install new windows, which will allow the contractor to close up the building and make it weather-tight for winter.
In response to a request for Tisbury residents to indicate their interest in participating in a community garden, town administrator John Bugbee said he received two emails and three letters. The selectmen will decide whether to go forward with the project based on community response. Mr. Bugbee said would-be gardeners can still submit a letter of interest to him by Tuesday, Sept. 23, at P.O. Box 1239, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
In other business, the selectmen approved Police Chief John Cashin's request to appoint Tanya Stobie as a school crossing guard through June 30, 2009.
The selectmen also voted to appoint Ralph Friedman and Jynell Kristal to the embarkation fee committee. Mr. Kristal abstained from the vote on his wife's appointment.