Tags Posts tagged with "Tisbury Selectmen"

Tisbury Selectmen

by -

The town has tough decisions to make about pedestrian and bicycle safety and access along the busy Beach Road thoroughfare.

Beach Road. — Photo by Michael Cummo

A team from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., joined the Tisbury selectmen at a meeting Tuesday night to provide an update on options for proposed improvements to Beach Road.

MassDOT plans to add sidewalks and bike lanes to a section of Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, from the Wind’s Up watersports shop to Five Corners.

The $1 million MassDOT road project is in a preliminary design phase. It is expected to receive federal funding in 2017.

John Diaz, director of traffic engineering at Greenman-Pedersen, an engineering and construction services firm, gave a presentation featuring illustrations of three conceptual plans with different options for sidewalks, bike lanes, and a shared use path (SUP). MassDOT project manager Thomas Currier and District 5 project development engineer Pamela Haznar provided additional details and answered questions. Planning Board members and Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) staff also attended.

Mr. Diaz said the project evolved from a pre-feasibility study done in May 2009 regarding the extension of Martha’s Vineyard’s network of SUPs. Last August MassDOT contracted GPI to design bike and pedestrian improvements along Beach Road. MassDOT held a pre-design public meeting at Tisbury town hall about the project on May 21.

Mr. Diaz said one of the project’s most critical areas is from where the SUP path ends near Wind’s Up to Saltwater Restaurant. The stretch is flanked by the Packer Company’s concrete retaining wall on one side, and the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard buildings on the other side, which makes especially challenging for fitting in sidewalks and bike lanes, he said.

Three concepts

With that in mind, concept one features a 5.5-foot wide sidewalk and 5-foot wide bike lane on both sides of the road from Wind’s Up to Five Corners, with two 11-foot vehicle travel lanes. Mr. Diaz said it would be the simplest of the three concepts to construct.

Concept two features a hybrid bike lane, with two-way bike traffic, and SUP on the eastbound side of the road, accessible by using a new crosswalk created by the Shell gas station. A two-foot grass strip would be added between the road and bike lane/SUP as a buffer. The westbound side of the road would have a sidewalk.

Concept three would extend the SUP from where it now ends near Wind’s Up, along the south side of Beach Road to Five Corners. Mr. Diaz said that design would require some takings, with a four- to six-foot impact on the eastbound side of the road.

Sam Dunn, an architect and builder who developed Tisbury Marketplace, also submitted an informal conceptual plan for the town’s consideration. During the discussion, he asked about the power lines along Beach Road and whether money that would be spent to move them could be put towards underground installation.

Ms. Haznar said that Transportation Improvement Program funds would pay for half the cost of moving the poles back for sidewalks and/or an SUP, and NSTAR would pay the other 50 percent. If Tisbury decides to put the utilities underground, the town’s ratepayers would have to pay the additional cost, she said.

MVC executive director Mark London suggested that town administrator Jay Grande and MassDOT representatives meet with NSTAR to figure out the costs. Mr. Diaz reminded everyone that even if the utilities are underground, there will still be street light poles along the road and in sidewalks.

Cyclist and business concerns

Chris Fried, who serves on the MVC’s bike-pedestrian planning advisory committee, expressed concerns about the safety of having children and inexperienced adults biking in a bike lane next to the traffic lane.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly an improvement, giving them a five-foot striped bike lane, instead of the narrow sandy strip they have now,” Mr. Diaz said.

His biggest concern, he added, is about the industrial section near the Packer Company and Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. A shared use path along that stretch could put employees at those businesses at risk for getting clipped by bicyclists, he pointed out, “The hard part for us is to come up with a design plan that’s going to work for everyone,” he added. “I think whatever we develop there will be an improvement over what’s already there.”

Vineyard Haven Marina general manager Liz Wild noted there are nine curb cuts on Beach Road from the Net Result seafood store to the vacant Boch property near Five Corners. Of those, seven are associated with traffic from very active businesses,

As a representative of two properties on Beach Road, Ms. Wild said, “We’re opposed to any taking of land, and would support a bike path that goes inland.We need sidewalks and crosswalks, and to put utility poles underground.”

Mr. Diaz said that he and the MassDOT reps would put together the comments they heard, get answers to questions that came up, and incorporate all of it into a discussion about the project’s pluses and minuses, as well as costs, at a public meeting tentatively planned for October. At that time, Mr. Currier said MassDOT will be asking the town which concept it prefers to advance as the 25 percent design submission.

Other business

In other business, the selectmen instructed Police Chief Dan Hanavan to discuss his reserve fund transfer request for $12,723 to cover a fiscal year 2014 budget shortfall with the Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom). Chief Hanavan said he had under-budgeted for gasoline expenses and additional equipment purchased. FinCom chairman Larry Gomez said the chief’s request would likely deplete the town’s reserve transfer funds for this fiscal year, and that any future requests would have to be saved until the end of the year.

“This is the first time since I’ve been on the FinCom, in 13 or 14 years, that we’ve run out of money,” he said.

At Tisbury Police Lieutenant Erik Meisner’s recommendation as the town’s emergency management director, the selectmen voted to approve Tisbury’s participation in a mutual aid agreement with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association and to appoint Robert Verdone as assistant emergency management director.

Also, the selectmen voted to appoint Martha Yukevich to the Housing Trust and Noreen Baker to the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council; to approve a participation agreement with Cape Light Compact for an LED streetlight program; to establish a joint Tisbury-Oak Bluffs Committee for Lagoon Pond watershed wastewater planning; and to allow the Planning Board to establish an advisory committee for its visioning process.

The selectmen’s next regular meeting is August 5. They will not meet again in August.

by -
Selectmen kicked back two shellfish regulations for revision. — File photo by Susan Safford

Tisbury selectmen Tuesday declined to approve two significant changes to town shellfish regulations recommended by shellfish constable Danielle Ewart and the town’s Shellfish Advisory Committee (SAC). Instead, they kicked them back for revision.

Selectmen held a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss five proposed rules changes. These included minor adjustments to language. The most heated discussion of the night focused on prohibitions against storing shellfish in the water following harvest and multiple uses of one boat to harvest scallops.

Following discussion and unanimous approval by the SAC, at the selectmen meeting on May 6 Ms. Ewart recommended to selectmen that the town add a new general regulation to prohibit wet storage of shellfish, which involves hanging containers of clams in water, usually off a dock. A state regulation prohibits the practice for commercially caught shellfish without a special permit.

Ms. Ewart said she was concerned about the risk of illness for people who eat shellfish, and the risk of diseases being spread among shellfish. Also, she said people are not required to tag their containers, so there is no information about who they belong to, when or where the shellfish were harvested, and how long they’ve been stored.

The selectmen agreed to seek comment from the board of health and scheduled the public hearing to discuss the wet storage regulation, along with other proposed changes to existing regulations.

After opening Tuesday night’s hearing, selectman chairman Jonathan Snyder called on Ms. Ewart to comment first.

With Oak Bluffs shellfish constable Dave Grunden sitting beside her to lend his support, Ms. Ewart read a letter she said summed up her opinions on wet storage written by Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group director and shellfish biologist Rick Karney in which he outlined the case against wet storage.

Mr. Karney said that in many cases, shellfish are crowded and some die, which leads to bacteria that gets into the healthy ones. Also, wet storage of shellfish that were caught elsewhere may lead to the spread of disease from one body of water to another. In the summer months as water temperatures increase, Mr. Karney said, the chance of people getting ill from consuming shellfish is greater.

SAC chairman James Tilton said the wet storage issue was brought to the committee’s attention in April, after shellfish assistant Ellery Whitworth found two milk crates filled with dead quahogs hanging from a dock owned by Michael Strada. He dumped them and called the state, which told him only commercially caught clams are prohibited from wet storage by state regulation.

After learning of the incident, Mr. Tilton said the SAC voted unanimously to recommend that wet storage be prohibited. Mr. Grunden said when the incident first arose, he took it to the Oak Bluffs Shellfish Committee. At the committee’s recommendation, the Oak Bluffs selectmen voted April 22 to add a regulation to prohibit wet storage in Lagoon Pond. Unlike the Tisbury selectmen, they were not required to hold a public hearing, Mr. Grunden said.

Mr. Grunden agreed that two of the concerns related to wet storage are shellfish disease and the possibility of importing diseases from one body of water to another.

Public prefers wet storage

Clams stored for a time in saltwater instead of the refrigerator taste better, several people argued. Tisbury health agent Tom Pachico disagreed with the proposed rule change. “I’ve wet stored clams before some of the people in this room were born — I’ve never been sick,” he said. Mr. Pachico said he did some research and could not find a single case of local residents getting sick from wet-stored clams.

Gene DeCosta said that Tisbury imports tons of contaminated clams and oysters into its ponds for later harvest, without a health issue. “I think it’s another rule and regulation we don’t need,” he said.

Michael Strada said he agreed with Mr. Pachico and Mr. DeCosta, and that everything he found in researching wet storage online was related to commercial harvests, not recreational. “I’ve stored quahogs out there on my dock for 20 years and never got sick,” he said. “I would ask the selectmen to look at this carefully and not put a regulation in place without a strong basis of fact.”

Marilyn Wortman asked the selectmen to think the regulation through carefully. “I’m very much against not allowing wet storage,” she said. “I think it’s ridiculous. I wonder if it isn’t driven by commercial fishermen who sit on the shellfish committee and aren’t allowed to wet store.”

Board of Health chairman Michael Loberg said his board looked at data regarding the impacts of wet storage on the health of Islanders and the ponds over several decades, and did not find a significant problem.

“I do think maybe we need to consider a new mechanism, where wet storage baskets are identified,” he suggested. “Maybe when you get a permit, you would indicate where you would be doing wet storage.”

Teachable moment

When it came time to discuss the proposed changes, selectmen Snyder, Tristan Israel, and Melinda Loberg offered their shellfish representatives limited support.

Ms. Loberg, newly elected to the board, said she was glad the issue came up because it gave her an opportunity to educate herself about the town’s shellfish regulations.

“We have the opportunity to use this as a teachable moment,” she said, suggesting that the town could address some of the wet storage issues by providing information about suggested shellfish storage techniques to people when they purchase their shellfish permits.

Mr. Israel said he agreed with the idea of creating some kind of pamphlet, and to take interim steps before adding another regulation. “I think there should be a time limit to wet storage and a requirement for owners to identify baskets,” he said, adding that he would not be in favor of the regulation as proposed by Ms. Ewart.

“Since the knowledge base is in the shellfish community and the board of health, we could ask them to collaborate on a set of regulations,” Ms. Loberg added.

Mr. Snyder said he was concerned about the risk to the health of Lagoon Pond and Lake Tashmoo with shellfish transfers and wet storage, yet he did not want to encumber the town with another regulation. “I’m inclined to agree to limit the length of storage and the quantity, and to identify the owner,” he said, “and educate the public on the risks of wet storage.”

The selectmen voted to approve Mr. Israel’s motion to ask the SAC to go through another public process to come up with some suggestions for the length of storage, storage container identification, and restrictions on transferring catches between bodies of water.

Selectmen approved a change in the commercial regulations that removed a limit of three licensed residents allowed in a boat.

A proposal to limit shellfish harvests to three family limits per boat per day also raised protest from shellfishermen in the audience. Scallop fishermen often make multiple trips during the day to take full advantage of their drags and haulers.

“I can take three people with permits out on my boat but can’t let my son use the boat later? That’s ridiculous,” Mr. Pachico said.

Ms. Ewart suggested that if he wanted to take someone else out, or let them use the boat, he should notify her. Mr. Israel suggested that should be made a regulation.

“I suggest you come back to us on this one,” Mr. Snyder told Ms. Ewart. The selectmen voted to take no action.

Selectmen did stand by Ms. Ewart’s recommendation to add the words “seed and/or broodstock” to a regulation regarding closing an area to shellfish harvesting. Lynn Fraker said there was a lot of controversy about the definition of what constitutes seed and broodstock, and that she and other commercial fisherman wanted to discuss it further with Ms. Ewart and the SAC before a change was made in the regulations.

“We looked at this issue last spring,” Mr. Israel said. “Danielle made a decision on how she wants to manage the pond, and we will support her as our shellfish constable.”

He and Mr. Snyder voted yes on the change. Ms. Loberg abstained.

by -

Tisbury selectmen chairman Jeff Kristal kept the pace brisk Tuesday night, wrapping up his last meeting as a selectman in about an hour. Mr. Kristal did not seek reelection and his second term will end with the town election on May 13.Selectmen Tristan Israel and Jon Snyder wished him the best in his next venture. Mr. Kristal is running for the Board of Public Works.

In departmentreports, fire chief John Schilling asked selectmen to agree to move full-time certified EMTs to group four, which includes uniformed employees such as police officers and firefighters, under the Dukes County retirement system. Chief Schilling said the change would give the town’s three full-time EMTs more credit for years of service on the retirement timeline, allowing them to retire sooner, which would be a valuable recruitment and retention tool. Following discussion about the potential costs, the selectmen tabled the issue, in order to get more information, including a pending new town employee classification plan.

Shellfish constable Danielle Ewart reported on proposed changes to the town’s shellfish regulations. Ms. Ewart said she is recommending that the town add a new general regulation to prohibit wet storage of shellfish, which is currently prohibited commercially by a state regulation.

The reason why is we do see a lot of illness spread to people from shellfish, and also among shellfish as well,” Ms. Ewart said. “Also, if hanging baskets of shellfish go bad, there is no accountability, there are no tags. We don’t know where they came from or where they were harvested, or how long they’ve been there.”

The selectmen agreed to seek comment from the board of health and to schedule a public hearing on June 3 to discuss the proposed regulation.

Town administrator Jay Grande followed up on discussion at Tisbury’s annual town meeting last week regarding two funding requests for replacement vehicles for Animal Control Officer Laurie Clements and Harbormaster Jay Wilbur. Mr. Grande said a pickup truck that Ms. Clements is interested in, as well as one with an extended cab for Mr. Wilbur, is available through Plymouth County’s municipal vehicle bulk purchasing program. The selectmen voted to recommend that Mr. Grande pursue the purchase of two pickups.

In other business, the selectmen voted to disband the emergency services facility building committee and to write a letter of thanks to every member; to allow a “Paint the Town Purple” promotion on May 31 through June 1 for the American Center Society Relay for Life; and to transfer a beer and wine license from the former Zephrus restaurant to the Copper Wok restaurant at the Mansion House.

Mr. Israel also took the opportunity to urge voters to turn out for the election, which includes a general override question on the ballot to allow the town to assess an additional $1.3 million in real estate and personal property taxes. “If it doesn’t pass, it’s the will of the people, but that will certainly cause some problems in the running of our government,” he said.