New Oak Bluffs board of selectmen tackles old issues


The revamped Oak Bluffs board of selectmen got down to business Tuesday night. In their first votes, newly elected selectmen Walter Vail and Mike Santoro sided with Gail Barmakian on a request for extended public review of a proposal to expand the 90-seat Ocean Club restaurant.

Businessman Mark Wallace wants to create a function hall and nightclub on the vacant second floor of the Oak Bluffs Avenue building, now before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for review.

At an October 26 meeting, the board of selectmen voted 4 to 1 vote with Ms. Barmakian dissenting, to send a letter of endorsement for the Ocean Club project to the regional planning agency. The board followed up with a letter strongly urging the MVC to allow Oak Bluffs to handle permitting through town regulatory authorities.

By consensus at Tuesday’s meeting, the board will draft a new letter reflecting the new board’s position.

“What was proposed at the MVC is very different than what was proposed here,” Ms. Barmakian said.

Selectmen elected vice-chairman Kathy Burton chairman but not before some discussion among the board members of a possible break with the traditional path to the chairmanship.

Ms. Barmakian noted that Ms. Burton is in the last year of her term. “I’m a lot more comfortable when the person that holds the chair is not up for re-election,” Ms. Barmakian said.

On the motion to elect Greg Coogan, Mr. Santoro, and Ms. Burton said yes. Ms. Barmakian and Mr. Vail said nothing, and the board moved on to other business.

Selectmen agreed to meet with the shellfish advisory committee at 6 pm, May 3, to review grievances expressed by some commercial fishermen, consider how to fill a vacancy on the committee, and review the duties of the shellfish constable.

Selectmen also agreed to change the 4 pm start time of the selectmen’s meetings to 5:30 pm, beginning on May 9.