Tisbury selectmen stay tuned for docu-soap details

The picturesque Black Dog tavern is expected to play a role in the Vineyard soap. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Selectman Tristan Israel opened the Tisbury selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night on a somber note, with remarks about Boston Marathon bombing.

“It’s a world that’s hard to understand at times, but I know I speak for the board, that our hearts go out to the victims and everybody affected by this,” Mr. Israel, the chairman of the selectmen, said. “And, also, that we are grateful for the support that was given and raised by the citizens and by our law enforcement people and our emergency services people and firemen last week. I learned that people from our Island tactical force went up there to assist, and we are very proud of them.”

After a moment of silence, the selectmen moved on to a happier topic and approved the promotion of police Officer Christopher Habekost to the rank of sergeant. He was sworn in before friends and family.

In follow-up to previous discussion, town administrator Jay Grande announced a public forum at the selectmen’s next regular meeting, at 5:30, May 7, to hear about the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company’s plans to expand its Vineyard Haven store on Water Street. Mr. Grande said the Tisbury planning board, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and Steamship Authority have been invited to participate.

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Mr. Grande also updated town officials on filming plans for “The Vineyard,” an ABC Family channel “docu-soap.” The show’s eight episodes will be filmed in Vineyard Haven and other Island locations, he said, but mostly at the Black Dog Tavern. He said the company plans to start filming on May 9 at the SSA terminal.

“The Vineyard” is created and executive-produced by Dave Broome, producer of the “Biggest Loser,” and Brian Smith (“Masterchef”) and 25/7 productions. Promotional material said, “Tight quarters, new friends and new rivals, all living, working, and playing together make this picturesque playground ripe for mischief and romance.”

Brett Blakeney, 25/7 production manager for “The Vineyard,” made a general request to film scenes in the six Island towns in a letter dated April 5 that was emailed to Island selectmen and police chiefs.

“The show is being produced for teens and young adults by ABC Family,” his letter explained. “As part of the Disney family, ABC Family requires strict standards be upheld and requires that our show be extremely family friendly.”

Mr. Grande said he contacted ABC and asked for a conference call so that he and other town officials could discuss more of the filming details with the show’s production staff. On Tuesday, he and selectman Jeff Kristal, police chief Dan Hanavan, harbor master Jay Wilbur, department of public works director Fred LaPiana, and Steamship Authority (SSA) representative Richard Clark took part in an almost 40-minute telephone conversation with Mr. Blakeney.

Mr. Grande said they were told each episode will result in about five shoots on various streets and properties in Tisbury and other Island locations, and some on the water, for a total of about 33 shoots over 2 months. The cast will include about eight to 10 members. A few episodes will center around employees at the Black Dog Tavern.

“They did agree to come to our next meeting on May 7 to give a more formal scope of what they’re planning to do, and that will be a formal request,” Mr. Grande said. “The other thing I think it’s important to note, they are saying that the show is some Disney production that will be very positive in terms of its portrayal of the Vineyard, in general, and Tisbury specifically, so they assured us of that.”

Mr. Grande said he also suggested a pre-meeting, face-to-face with the show’s producers on May 4, before the May 7 selectmen’s meeting.

Mr. Kristal agreed that the conference call was very helpful. “I don’t think the concerns are huge, so it will fit right in,” he said. “I think the conversation went well, and they’re very open to hearing what we want. It was very positive.”

Finance and advisory committee (FinCom) chairman Larry Gomez asked whether there would be any fiinancial compensation for the town, especially since the show will be filmed during the busy summer season, in one of the town’s busiest areas, Five Corners. Mr. Grande said the town needs to get something in writing from the producers, including specifics about any compensation for town expenses, such as police details and cleanup, that might be required.

Other business

In follow-up to decisions made at town meeting, the selectmen approved job descriptions for a new wastewater laboratory director and wastewater plant superintendent and a contract for $66,000 with Cricket and Rainman Builders for Owen Park dock repairs, which are expected to be completed by May 23.

In other business, the selectmen voted to approve a Green Communities Grant contract for which the town will receive $140,925; a five-year contract for $2,267,250 with Bruno’s roll-off to operate the transfer station in Oak Bluffs; a transfer fund request for $8,000 from fire Chief John Schilling for repairs to a paramedic response vehicle and the town’s primary ambulance; a revised job description for a police lieutenant; and a new rental fee schedule for the Tashmoo Spring Building.

The selectmen also approved a Island-wide shelter drill to be held on May 4 at the Tisbury School with participation by emergency management services personnel, the American Red Cross, the Medical Reserve Corps, and the Salvation Army.