Tags Posts tagged with "Edgartown Selectmen"

Edgartown Selectmen

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Owners of the building that housed Eleven North restaurant in Edgartown have proposed a new plan to allow access for people with disabilities. — File photo by Michelle Gross

The owners of Eleven North restaurant in Edgartown presented a new plan to allow access for people with disabilities at a meeting of Edgartown selectmen Monday night. An extensive renovation of the former David Ryan’s restaurant in 2012 triggered regulations that require access for people with disabilities. The restaurant operated under a temporary reprieve in 2012 and 2013.

The former restaurant operators were at odds with selectmen and the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board over the issue. Previously, selectmen rejected a proposal for a wheelchair lift that would have required the use a loading zone on Mayhew Lane.

On Monday, John Roberts, one of the owners of the building occupied by Eleven North, asked selectmen to consider a wheelchair lift that would settle on the sidewalk owned by the town.

“I’m hopeful we’ve found a solution,” Mr. Roberts said. The latest plan would install a motorized wheelchair lift that would travel on a rail from the entry way on North Water Street, and settle on the town-owned sidewalk.

“The only time town property would be affected would be in the two to three minutes for the lift to fold down, and for the wheelchair to drive on it,” Mr. Roberts said. He estimated the lift would be used 5 to 15 times per year.

Selectmen Art Smadbeck and Michael Donaroma indicated initial support for the concept.

“I think it sounds like a good solution,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

“It kind of makes sense,” Mr. Donaroma said.

But selectman Margaret Serpa wanted to seek the opinion of other town officials.

“I’d like to ask the building inspector for his input,” Ms. Serpa said, “and maybe you could question the town counsel about liability, and see if we need any relief for that.”

Selectmen took the proposal under advisement, and said they might vote on the plan at their next meeting.

Also Monday, town administrator Pam Dolby informed selectmen that two people who were selected following interviews for the part-time position of procurement officer, turned down the town’s job offer.

“Neither one wants the job because of the pay,” Ms. Dolby said. The job posting lists a range of salaries defined by the town’s classification and compensation plan starting at $22.38 per hour for step 1, to $28.29 per hour for step 7. Ms. Dolby said she will ask the personnel committee to reconsider the salary.

“Until we resolve this, Jen (O’Hanlon) has agreed to stay on,” Ms. Dolby said. “She’ll still be very part time, but she’ll do the best she can.”

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A discussion about consolidating the Island’s elementary schools prompted a sharp and negative reaction at the Edgartown selectmen’s meeting.

Edgartown selectmen bristled at the notion of elementary school regionalization. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

In forceful terms, Edgartown selectmen Tuesday rejected outright the idea of regionalizing the Island’s elementary schools. No proposal was formally on the table, but the concept was a topic of discussion at a forum on May 18 sponsored by the League of Women Voters where superintendent of schools James Weiss and retired superintendent Peter Palches spoke about the concept and the efficiencies they said it would create.

Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury operate K-8 schools. Edgartown selectmen, with Edgartown school committee members present Tuesday, swung hard at the notion of regionalization.

“This is a very bad idea for Edgartown,” chairman Art Smadbeck said. “It’s a very bad idea to even be thinking of giving up our school committee, or local control of our school.”

Mr. Smadbeck objected to every facet of the regionalization concept discussed at the May 18 meeting, but he reserved his strongest objection to the cost.

If a regional elementary school system used the same cost allocation formula used by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, he said, Edgartown would foot approximately 37 percent of the costs.

Mr. Smadbeck distributed a financial analysis that showed Edgartown school costs would rise from $7.1 million to $11.0 million annually, and its per pupil cost would rise from $19,771 to $30,609, under the current state formula for allocation of costs.

“Not one dollar of that increase would go to any Edgartown student,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “Not a dollar, not a nickel, not a penny.”

Mr. Smadbeck said he would oppose regionalization, even if costs were allocated according to a formula he felt is more equitable. Asked after the meeting why he raised such strong opposition to a concept that is not yet a formal proposal, he said, “It demands a response.”

Selectman Margaret Serpa also strongly opposed the concept of regionalization.

“It’s very disturbing,” Ms. Serpa said. “It’s not going to save money. Five people on a committee for a whole Island is not a fair way to run a system. It needs to be put back to bed.”

Leslie Baynes, who served five terms on the Edgartown school committee and is now a member of the financial advisory committee, also opposed the idea.

“If one town falls in trouble, and can’t support the budget, there becomes pressure to cut the budget to control their costs, which in effect, could hurt Edgartown,” Mr. Baynes said.

School committee members also spoke briefly in opposition to regionalization.

Mr. Smadbeck, Ms. Serpa, and Mr. Baynes said they did not attend the May 18 League of Women Voters discussion. They did not speak to Mr. Weiss prior to Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting. Mr. Smadbeck said he was reacting to an account of the League meeting published in the Vineyard Gazette on May 23.

Reached Wednesday and told of the reaction by Edgartown selectmen to his reported comments at the meeting, Mr. Weiss said regionalization is not a simple concept.
“I think there are some things we need to do regionally, like we do our buses,” Mr. Weiss said. “We have a regional bus system, it works, it saves everybody money. We’ve probably saved a million dollars in the nine years we’ve been doing it. If you look at the way we do some special education programs, we save money for everybody.”

Mr. Weiss said he does not believe Island towns will agree to the concept of regionalizing all school functions. “The notion of complete regionalization, it’s not about the money, it’s about power and control,” he said. “I think it’s a longshot at best. Total regionalization is just not in the cards.”

Pouring permit

In other action Tuesday, selectmen unanimously approved a farmer series pouring permit for Bad Martha Brewery. The new venture is backed by Island developer Peter Rosbeck II, and Jonathan Blum, an Edgartown seasonal homeowner who is a senior executive with Yum! Brands, Inc., the company that operates Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. The company is finishing construction on a micro-brewery and tasting room on Upper Main Street. Selectmen Michael Donaroma did not participate in the discussion, because the brewery is built on his property and he is the landlord.

The farmer series pouring permit is a new kind of alcoholic license that allows the licensee to sell and allow samplings of the alcoholic beverages it manufactures on the premises.

Attorney Sean Murphy, who represents the business, said the brewery intends to open from 11 am to 7 pm, but may expand hours as late as 11 pm. The license would allow beer to be served in a 900-square-foot tasting room with 10 seats, and on an open porch with 32 outside seats.

During the public hearing on the license, Marilyn Look, whose brother owns Al’s Package Store on Upper Main Street, and also lives near the new brew pub, questioned whether the business is actually a bar.

“How is that not a bar,” Ms. Look said. “You pay for a bottle of beer to drink on the premises, that’s not a bar?”

Ms. Serpa spoke in support of the license. “I think it’s a new venue, it’s a new experience,” Ms. Serpa said. “There are avenues for complaints if they come up.”

Ms. Serpa and Mr. Smadbeck voted to approve the license. It still needs approval from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

This article was updated to clarify that Marilyn Look is the sister of the owner of Al’s Package Store, and also lives near the new brew pub.

Martina Thornton. — Steve Myrick

Dukes County commissioners are exploring a regional purchase of the former Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) building in Vineyard Haven to house the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living. County manager Martina Thornton pitched the idea to receptive Edgartown selectmen at their regular Monday meeting.

The Center for Living is an Island-wide organization that offers care and services for residents aged 55 and over, including a supportive day program for frail elders, as well as Alzheimers and dementia patients. The organization currently provides most services on a reduced schedule of four days per week, using existing senior center facilities in Edgartown and Tisbury.

Edgartown selectmen offered strong support for the concept and asked Ms. Thornton to continue looking into costs, borrowing, and special legislation that may be required.

For the past year, county officials explored construction of a new building to house the Center for Living, but they shifted focus when the VNA ceased operations in March.

“Currently the building they renovated in Vineyard Haven by Holmes Hole Road is for sale,” Ms. Thornton wrote in a letter to Edgartown selectmen. “We have explored the potential for it to house the Center for Living and their board expressed interest if needed upgrades are done.” The upgrades include an additional bathroom for people with disabilities, and new windows, according to Ms. Thornton.

Ms. Thornton estimated the cost of the building and renovations at approximately $1.6 million. Financing is still to be worked out, but Ms. Thornton said the towns would have to provide the money.

The building’s nearly 7,500 square feet of space exceeds the current space needs of the Center for Living. Ms. Thornton said some of the space could be rented to offset the cost of operations, and still leave room for the organization to expand as the aging population grows in the coming years.

“This seems like a good deal to us, but of course the county does not have the money to purchase it,” Ms. Thornton said.

If the county purchases the building, with support from the Island towns, it would require a special act of the state legislature to arrange borrowing, a process that could take at least six months.

“I think it’s a really good idea: we’ve been looking for a long time for a place to house the Center for Living,” Art Smadbeck, chairman of the board of selectmen, said. “It’s not fortunate for the Island that we lost the VNA, but it’s fortunate that we have a building that meets the needs.”

Selectmen Margaret Serpa and Michael Donaroma also offered support for the concept.

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On the suggestion of police chief Tony Bettencourt, Edgartown selectmen agreed Monday to give police the authority to check the criminal records of taxi drivers and approve or deny an individual’s license to drive a taxi. The authority to license a company to operate a taxi service will remain with selectmen, but police would assume the authority to license drivers.

The changes will require the town to adopt a section of state law. Selectmen have scheduled a vote on the measure at their next meeting.

“Through the criminal history board, we can actually run some of these records,” Chief Bettencourt said. “Right now we can’t, because it goes through the board of selectmen. Coming from me, we’ll be able to run everybody’s record so we have safe drivers on the road.”

He said the change is not out of concern for any current taxi companies or drivers.

Earlier in Monday’s meeting, selectmen renewed licenses for Adam Cab to operate 10 taxis, and for John’s Taxi to operate three vehicles. They voted to increase from eight to 10 the number of cab licenses issued to Stagecoach Taxi.

In other action, the board straightened out an alcohol licensing issue for Edgartown Books. In earlier meetings, the board approved a beer and wine license, but later rescinded that vote, because the business had not received needed inspections and approval from the town building inspector. At Monday’s meeting, selectmen rescinded their vote to rescind, and instead voted to table the beer and wine license.

“Now this can go to the ABCC (Alcoholic Beverage and Control Commission),” said Sean Murphy, an attorney who represents Edgartown Books. “This will allow them to get up to Boston and start the process.”

If the ABCC approves the license, it would still need final approval from the town.

“It’s complicated, but we’re getting there,” chairman Art Smadbeck said.

In other action, the board scheduled a public hearing for a beer and wine license application from Bad Martha Brewing Company. The beer company is constructing a brew pub on Upper Main Street. The hearing is set for May 19, at 4 pm, in the selectmen’s meeting room.

Selectmen also approved the final draft of a letter to Governor Deval Patrick calling for the closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Opponents of the nuclear plant petitioned other Island town meetings to support decommissioning of the plant, but they missed the deadline to get on the Edgartown annual town meeting warrant.