Oak Bluffs signs off on builder for new town fire/EMS station

Photo courtesy of Keenan + Kenny

Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously at their regular meeting on Tuesday night to approve the building committee’s selection of J.K. Scanlan of East Falmouth to construct the the town’s new fire/EMS station, clearing the way for the construction project to begin.
The J.K. Scanlan bid came in at $6,453,000, $3,850 below the $6,456,850 cost projected by Daedalus Projects cost estimators. J.K. Scanlan estimated it will take 10 months to build the new station, two months shorter than the 12-month period the town required in the request for proposals (RFP) issued in August.
John Keenan and Antonia Kenny, principals in the architectural firm Keenan and Kenny Ltd. of Falmouth, were on hand to endorse the committee’s decision. “This has been a 16-month process, and I think we got it right,” Mr. Keenan said.
“They have the ability and the buying power to be able to state they can bring this in on budget and in the timeline,” Joe Sullivan, project supervisor from Daedalus Projects, told the board. “They’ve built a fire station before, and that helped.”
J.K. Scanlan is a familiar name on the Vineyard where it has completed a  number of public works projects. Keenan & Kenny Architects designed the new West Tisbury town hall and J. K. Scanlan Company was the general contractor.
“It’s encouraging that you followed this process and still came in under the predicted cost. I’ve heard from a number of people how well the building committee worked on this,” chairman of the selectmen Greg Coogan said. “What happens if they don’t stay on schedule?”
“It’s our job to make sure they hit all the benchmarks,” Mr. Sullivan said.
Selectman Walter Vail, also a member of the building committee, singled out Vineyard Haven resident Ian Aitchison for his contributions to the building committee. “In a past life, Ian oversaw much bigger projects than this. He was full of great questions and was a very valuable member of the committee, and I really appreciate that he came over from Vineyard Haven.”
“I’ve been volunteering all around Island, the West Tisbury library, the West Tisbury police station,” Mr. Aitchison said, in a phone call with The Times last week. “I enjoy it. It keeps me out of trouble.”
During construction, the fire department will be stationed at the modifiedtown highway barn on County Road where renovations are already underway. EMS and administrative services will be housed in a separate building on Barnes Road until construction is complete.
The new 20,250-square-foot fire/EMS station will replace the current 8,413-square-foot structure on Wing Road. Construction is slated to begin in November. In April town elections, town voters approved a $8,288,000, debt exclusion to finance the new station by only six votes (421-415).

Seasonal quandary
In other business, the selectmen were presented with the quandary of giving victualers with seasonal liquor licenses the option of staying open for less than the required five days a week, thus allowing them to operate longer into the shoulder seasons.
Suzanna Cromwell, co-owner of Sweet Life Cafe on Circuit Ave.,  petitioned the selectmen to allow the restaurant to operate three days, Thursday through Saturday, until the end of the year. Ms. Cromwell said without an exemption, the restaurant would have to close at the end of October. Oak Bluffs town bylaw requires year-round liquor license holders to stay for a minimum of four hours, five days a week, unless given special permission by the selectmen. Typically the exemption is given for renovation and cleaning during the winter. Seasonal liquor licenses allow businesses to stay open from April 1 to December 31, with the same operating criteria. Town bylaw states if seasonal licensees close for more than 48 hours without selectmen’s permission, they must close until April 1.

“I can appreciate financial pressure; I’m just worried about precedent we’d be setting,” selectman Kathy Burton said. “It doesn’t feel fair to the year-round businesses. We’ve discussed before we didn’t allow them to close more than 48 hours, other than for renovation and cleaning.”

“When other establishments have to stay open, puts the financial burden on them,” selectman Gail Barmakian said. “I’m sure [year-round proprietors] lose money in the off season because they have to stay open.”
“We have a bylaw against closing more than 48 hours, but we want the town to be open and for people to have options. It’s an interesting  problem,” Mr. Coogan said. “I want to take care of year-round businesses, that’s who I want to protect.”
After considerable discussion, the selectmen voted unanimously, with selectman Michael Santoro abstaining, that the board should weigh the issue and vote at their next regular meeting on Tuesday, October 28.
After the vote, Mr. Santoro suggested that the selectmen follow suit with Edgartown, and invite restaurant owners to an open forum and hear their opinions on the matter.