Oak Bluffs selectmen choose Rose Cogliano to head Council on Aging

The majority said finalist Michael Weston was overqualified for the job.

At the Tuesday Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting, Mike Marsch of BlueWave Capital explained details of the planned solar array for the Oak Bluffs Water District. – Photo by Monica Busch

A long period of uncertainty at the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging (COA) came to an end Tuesday night when Oak Bluffs selectmen voted 3 to 1 to hire acting director Rose Cogliano to fill the newly formed COA administrator position.

Selectman Walter Vail nominated Ms. Cogliano for the job, saying she was “head and shoulders” above the other candidates. “I’m not saying she won’t need help from Bob [town administrator Robert Whritenour], but I think the people at the senior center will be delighted,” he said.

Selectman Greg Coogan seconded the nomination: “I agree in terms of who we need to administer the Council on Aging that she fit the bill best,” he said. “She’s done well, and she’s good at it.”

Ms. Cogliano has been the acting director of the COA since February 2014.

Mr. Coogan acknowledged finalist Michael Weston had impressive qualifications, and suggested his prior experience on the state and national level would better serve an Island-wide COA, if such an entity were to exist. ”I didn’t see him as a nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day operator,” Mr. Coogan said. “Rose has been hands-on. It’s incumbent on us to broaden her education. It’s the one part where we can help.”

Chairman Michael Santoro was out of town for the final interviews on May 12, but said he’d watched them on MVTV. He also thought that Mr. Weston was overqualified for the job.

“I was very impressed with Michael Weston,” he said. “He’s worldly. He was one of two Americans selected to World Council on Aging. Rose has been acting director for six months, and assistant director for nine years. I think the senior center has been topsy-turvy, and bringing someone from the outside, I don’t see it being healthy.” Mr. Santoro proposed that Ms. Cogliano be hired with a 90-day probationary period, that she work closely with Mr. Whritenour, and that she receive a job review in six months.

Selectman Gail Barmakian cast the dissenting vote. She said the opportunity to hire someone as experienced as Mr. Weston was “a gift” to the town that was being squandered by the selectmen.

Mr. Weston has worked in elder affairs for the past 40 years at the local, state, and national level, and currently works as a consultant on disaster  protocol for the aging at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He teaches graduate courses in gerontology at Rutgers University. Mr. Weston also consulted for the United States Administration on Aging, and over his career held various positions in state and local agencies in Florida, according to his résumé. In his final interview, Mr. Weston told selectmen he has been a lifelong seasonal resident, and his mother, Margo Weston, has been a Tisbury resident for 90 years.

“It’s not to say Rose hasn’t done a good job, but we talk about using resources, and he has a wealth of experience,” Ms. Barmakian said. “We need a professional. The last three people really didn’t have the training and experience.” Ms. Barmakian also said that Mr. Weston’s experience at the state and national level could be a strong asset when it comes to obtaining grant money. “I see this as a lost, very valuable opportunity,” she said. “He’d not only be an asset to our town, but also to other senior centers on the Island. I’m taken aback that the other members don’t recognize this.”

“If he came in to run our senior center, it would be a whole new experience for him,” Mr. Vail countered. “He would be overwhelmed by the amount of details he would have to do. There’s no question that Rose could do the job.”

Mr. Coogan said that he agreed with the points Ms. Barmakian made in spirit, but said that he too had his doubts about Mr. Weston making the transition to a small-town senior center. “If [the job] was county-wide, he’d be a perfect fit,” he said. “I think Rose has a lot of growing to do for her to maintain the position.”

During public comment, Oak Bluffs seasonal resident Kenneth Walker praised the board’s choice. “From my own experience, Rose was always accepting like family, and she’s always friendly,” he said. “I compliment you on that appointment.”

Ms. Cogliano will be paid between $25.30 and $31.16 per hour for a 40-hour week, according to the job description.

Selectman Kathy Burton was not present due to off-Island family business.Rolling thunder
In other business, selectmen considered two applications for entertainment licenses for downtown establishments — The Barn Bowl and Bistro and the Loft adult game room.

Selectmen also held a public hearing on an “alteration of premises” permit for the Loft, formerly Dreamland, on the second floor of the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co. The contingent representing the Loft included attorney Sean Murphy, proprietor J.B. Blau, and building owner Mike Wallace. After Building Inspector Mark Barbadoro told selectmen the building was “all good” from his perspective, the approval process went swiftly, until the longstanding issue of handicapped access arose. Mr. Wallace said he thought his brother Mark had contacted the Architectural Access Board (AAB) on the matter, and would double-check after the meeting. Mr. Barbadoro said if the AAB had not been contacted, he would rescind his approval. Selectmen approved the permit 3 to 0, with Mr. Santoro, a restaurateur, recusing himself.

Selectmen then quickly approved the entertainment license for the Loft, 3 to 0.

The application for an entertainment license for Barn, Bowl and Bistro by co-owner Sam Dunn did not go as smoothly. Mr. Dunn was applying for a license for a second-floor event room, under the conditions stipulated by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) when it unanimously approved the bowling alley on March 6, 2014 — that the upstairs room have a maximum capacity of 50 people, that it be used no more than twice a week, and that there be no amplified music or video games. Mr. Dunn told selectmen these same conditions were being met. The application hearing morphed into a public hearing when Vice Chairman Gail Barmakian, substituting for recused Chairman Mike Santoro, gave three abutting homeowners a chance to air their grievances about noise created by the bowling alley.

David Harte objected to the entertainment license, and said that the soundproofing measures dictated by the MVC had not been completed. “It sounds like fireworks in August,” he said.

Lisa Steward Crisp said she could “most definitely hear bowling pins hit the ground.” She also cited traffic concerns during the public-comment period at the end of the meeting. Mr. Santoro, also the chairman of the roads and byways committee, said it would be discussed at the next committee meeting in June.

Byron Barnett told selectmen he felt the vibrations from the bowling balls in his home, and said it sounded “like thunder.”

Mr. Dunn said the MVC approval did not stipulate complete silence, and that there was an agreed-upon decibel level that could resolve the issue. Building Inspector Mark Barbadoro left the meeting with Mr. Dunn to take decibel readings. Selectmen agreed not to rule on the license until the decibel test was completed.

On Wednesday, Mr. Barbadoro wrote a letter to Mr. Dunn with his findings. “Using your sound meter the noise did not appear to violate the noise provisions of the Zoning Bylaw however you still have not completed the sound dampening provisions of the [acoustic] report which puts you in violation of the DRI.”

Mr. Barbadoro said that sound dampening work on the exterior walls must be completed by June 1, 2015 “or you must cease all bowling activity within the building.”