Oak Bluffs selectmen sound off, but agree to outdoor music

— File photo by Mae Deary

Oak Bluffs selectmen ventured back into the subject of outdoor amplified music on the harbor at their Tuesday meeting, authorizing a special permit for the Sand Bar & Grille to have a band during a full moon party on August 31.

Selectmen unanimously agreed to allow amplified music from 8 pm to 10 pm. Selectman Michael Santoro abstained because he is the managing partner of two competing establishments.

Selectmen struggled with the issue during a series of heated meetings last spring. The board banned outdoor music on the harbor just before Memorial Day, then lifted the ban after protests by musicians and bar owners, then banned it again after complaints by residents and disputes among bar owners.

Following the disputes, they enacted a policy that allowed for amplified music only by special permit of the selectmen.

“I’m not wild about it,” selectman Walter Vail said. “It caused all sorts of problems. I just think it’s going to disturb your neighbors,” he told Mike Wallace, who owns the Sand Bar with his brother Mark.

“If this isn’t successful, the board isn’t going to want to do it again,” selectman Greg Coogan said. “It might be worth it to make sure the buildings are not shaking.”

In other action, selectmen also authorized a musical parade as part of the third annual Best Fest celebration, scheduled this year for Viera Park. The parade, featuring the Extraordinary Rendition Band, will begin at the park in the early evening, go through the Oak Bluffs Arts District, through the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association Campground to the Dreamland Ballroom, where the band will perform.

Also Tuesday, the town’s shellfish committee recommended, and selectmen approved, dates for the upcoming bay scallop season.

Sengekontacket Pond and outside waters will open to recreational permit holders on October 13, and to commercial permit holders on October 22.

Lagoon Pond will open to recreational permit holders on October 27, and to commercial permit holders on October 29.

Selectmen agreed to consider a plan to construct a new fence outside the police station, on which to hang banners advertising various town and private events.

“We need to think about a policy on banners, because it’s getting banner crazy,” chairman Kathy Burton said. “Too many banners.”

Selectmen said they have received questions about a mobile trailer at the fire station on Wing Road. Town administrator Bob Whritenour explained the trailer provides more space for the ambulance department, which has been under pressure from state officials to comply with regulations about quarters for emergency medical personnel and storage of ambulance supplies and drugs.

“We’ve been forced to bring in some temporary space,” Mr. Whritenour said. “We’re not going to be violating any rules and placing the town in a liability position.”

He said he will ask the town’s capital improvement committee for a feasibility study on a more permanent solution.

“The reality is, the firehouse has to be improved,” Mr. Whritenour said. “Until that happens, we’re going to need this extra space.”

Mr. Whritenour presented selectmen with copies of a strategic plan for fiscal year 2013, the result of a series of planning sessions over the past several months.

“The board of selectmen has identified 11 areas of strategic focus,” Mr. Whritenour said. “In each area, a series of projects were identified and prioritized. It’s a huge value to communicate with local residents and set the priorities for the town.”