Oak Bluffs selectmen reverse decision on summer construction

— File photo by Ralph Stewart

At a specially scheduled meeting Monday evening, the Oak Bluffs selectmen reversed a decision they made six days earlier and voted unanimously to allow interior work to continue at a downtown construction project that has annoyed neighboring businesses.

At last week’s regular meeting, the selectmen ordered all work to stop after June 14, an extension of its established policy prohibiting renovation in the downtown business area after June 1.

The building at 57 Circuit Avenue, formerly the Oyster Bar Grill restaurant now owned by Edgartown National Bank, will house a bank branch and office space.

After 45 minutes of debate Monday, selectmen approved a set of conditions proposed by building inspector James Dunn, that would allow only interior work, while restricting noise, material deliveries, and truck parking. The conditions also restrict work hours to 8 am to 4 pm, and prohibit work on weekends.

“I don’t think we took into consideration the contractors, their employees, their families, and just what it means to get paid,” said Mr. Dunn, who did not attend last week’s meeting.

The conditions approved by selectmen also affect three other construction projects already permitted, but do not apply to any future projects.

The change came despite strong objections from several local businesses that were surprised and irritated that contractor C&J Hunt Construction rebuilt sidewalks over the weekend, effectively blocking all pedestrian traffic on that side of upper Circuit Avenue.

“Every business on that sidewalk lost their business,” selectman Gail Barmakian said. “It was an absolute disaster.”

The contractor had promised to finish the project by Memorial Day.