Oak Bluffs selectmen formalize support of town’s first oyster farm

The yellow pins show the approximate area off Eastville Beach where brothers Dan and Greg Martino plan to farm oysters. — Courtesy of Google Maps

Oak Bluffs selectmen met in executive session before their regular Tuesday-night meeting to discuss strategy in the lawsuit filed against the town by seasonal Eastville Beach resident Jacob Ludwig III. Mr. Ludwig’s suit seeks to overturn the town’s decision to grant brothers Dan and Greg Martino an aquaculture license for a two-acre oyster farm off Eastville Beach. The selectmen voted 3 to 1 to formally endorse their findings, a document that clarifies their reasoning for the approval should the case go before a judge. Selectman Gail Barmakian was the dissenting vote, citing concerns that the oyster farm could be hazardous to boaters. Selectman Michael Santoro was absent.

Mr. Ludwig filed suit in Suffolk County superior court on Oct. 15. The complaint alleges that the selectmen failed to conduct a comprehensive review of the project. Additionally, it maintains the selectmen denied the Eastville opponents the right to proper legal representation.

Mr. Ludwig’s attorney, Matthew Rush of the Boston law firm of Sloane and Walsh, asked selectmen to consider a number of conditions to the license so the Eastville residents, the town, and the Martino brothers could develop a “symbiotic relationship.” Mr. Rush asked the board to limit the hours of operation, to set specific standards to prevent odiferous “biofouling,” to set specific pollution standards, to clarify the Martinos’ responsibilities when problems arise, to increase the $5,000 bond, to see drawings of the raft that will be used to work the farm, and to add a clause specifically stating that the two-acre farm cannot expand during the three-year license.

Chairman of the selectmen Greg Coogan asked Mr. Rush to put the proposed conditions in writing. “If they are reasonable and can help bring this to a conclusion, I’m interested,” he said.

In other business, Oak Bluffs resident Skip Finley presented selectmen with a proposal to erect a memorial for the late Senator Edward W. Brooke in Nashawena Park. Senator Brooke, a longtime Oak Bluffs homeowner, was the first black attorney general in Massachusetts and the first black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. Mr. Finley said a nine-member committee will raise funds for the project, solicit input from residents and town officials, and review artist submissions. Selectmen were unanimous in their support of the project.

Selectmen also voted unanimously to accept a $1,000 donation from Dana Mylott to the Niantic Park donation fund and a $100 donation from Holly Alaimo for the Ocean Park donation fund.