Tisbury selectmen sandwich in planning, police, and demolition

The old DPW barn is slated to be demolished. — Photo by Janet Hefler

The Tisbury selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night stretched into more than three hours, with a two-hour executive session sandwiched between regular publicly conducted business. The purpose of the private session was to negotiate a deal between selectmen and former town police officer Kelly Kershaw, whom selectmen fired in June. (See news brief on Page A2.)

The selectmen heard reports from town administrator John “Jay” Grande and other department heads before going into executive session at 6 pm. They reconvened in open session two hours later for discussion on Stop & Shop Supermarket’s proposed expansion project and its review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Mr. Grande said he has put together a list of the project’s main issues, suggested to him by the planning board and MVC executive director Mark London. Dissatisfaction with the town’s Water Street parking lot, relocation of the public restrooms, and traffic circulation around the store and through Five Corners are among the main topics, Mr. Grande said.

“I think we’ve come to a more or less common point of view about how we might be able to proceed with the project,” planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson said. “Which is to say that we’d like to find a way for the Stop & Shop project to move forward without creating obstacles to their specific proposals, and at the same time we recognize it’s a complex issue which involves the impacts of the development on the surrounding community and on the downtown business district.”

Ned Orleans, the selectmen’s MVC appointee, said the decision about what the project entails comes down to a simple question. “It seems to me what we’re talking about is, is this a Stop & Shop project or is it a downtown traffic project?”

Mr. London said it might be helpful to dissociate the issues Stop & Shop needs to resolve to get the project approved from some of the larger issues, such as traffic, which are complex and would take longer to analyze.

Mr. Kristal gave everyone an opportunity to comment before ending the discussion after 45 minutes.

In other business, the selectmen approved shellfish constable Danielle Ewart’s recommendation to open about 26 acres of Lagoon Pond east of Maciel Marine to commercial and residential shellfishing. Ms. Ewart said she had been working with the Department of Marine Fisheries to receive approval to open the area, which has been closed to shellfishing in the summer since 1999.

The selectmen also agreed to meet with the Vineyard Haven Public Library’s board of trustees at their request to discuss possible options to help increase available parking around the library, such as dedicated spaces with time limitations.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum executive director David Nathans received the selectmen’s vote of approval for the showing of the historical film, “This is Our Island,” at 7:30 pm, August 6, at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. Ticket revenues will benefit the museum and film center.

Under department reports, building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick said he and department of public works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana are making plans to demolish an old DPW garage on Spring Street across from the Tisbury School, before school starts. The parking lot behind it will be repaved and made available to Tisbury School employees.

Although originally planned for early summer, Mr. Barwick said the demolition project was delayed because of a small amount of hazardous material that must be removed.

The selectmen approved Mr. Barwick’s recommendation for the garage’s demolition at a meeting on April 3, based on his concerns about public safety.

The facility was built into a hill, next to a steep driveway leading into the lot behind it, which makes the back of its roof easily accessible. Mr. Barwick said he had caught children walking around on the roof, which is full of holes.

Mr. Barwick said he and Mr. LaPiana would coordinate the demolition project to keep it in-house. They are working out how to retain the soil behind the building once it is removed.

Tisbury School administrators and school committee members had requested use of the parking lot behind the old garage, which was used as a construction staging area for the new Emergency Services Facility.

The selectmen held a public hearing last November to review plans to turn the lot into one for Tisbury School employees. The selectmen and school officials signed a memorandum of understanding that the town will maintain the lot, retain control of it, and review the terms of its use annually.

Voters had previously approved a total of $50,000 toward the project, at two separate town meetings. On Tuesday night, Mr. LaPiana estimated it would cost about $5,000 for the hazardous waste removal, which will cut into the funds available to pay the cost of paving. He said that lighting would probably require an additional appropriation at town meeting, and recommended that the town should go ahead and install conduit for it now, before the lot is paved.

Mr. Kristal asked him to contact the neighbors to ask what type of fencing they would prefer.

At 6 pm the selectmen voted to go into executive session. According to the agenda, the purpose was to hear an employee grievance at step two. Although no name was listed on the agenda, the hearing was a follow-on to a disciplinary hearing held June 10, at which the selectmen voted to fire Tisbury police officer Kelly Kershaw.

Ms. Kershaw attended with her attorney, Jennifer Smith, a police union lawyer with the firm of Sandulli Grace, and Chris Kelsey, a representative of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, the union that represents Tisbury police officers.

Members of the public who waited outside on the Senior Center’s porch were invited back inside at 8 pm, when the selectmen reconvened the meeting in open session to discuss the Stop & Shop project.

At the meeting’s conclusion at 8:45, when asked about the outcome of the earlier executive session, Mr. Grande said all parties had reached an agreement and the matter was closed.