Oak Bluffs selectmen wrap up the fiscal year


Oak Bluffs selectmen tended to a laundry list of items at their regular meeting on Tuesday night, the last day of fiscal year 2015.

Dukes County Manager Martina Thornton brought two memoranda of understanding (MOU) to the selectmen to sign. One MOU formalized the town’s financial commitment to the newly purchased Council on Aging building. A vote at town meeting approved the purchase of the former Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) building in Tisbury off State Road for $1.4 million, to provide a permanent home for the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living (MVCL). The Oak Bluffs portion of the debt will be $335,680, plus interest, over 15 years. This amount does not include upgrades to the building. The MOU also stated that the county could rent space in the building to individual towns or to the county, at below market rate, or gratis. The MOU was endorsed unanimously by selectmen.

A second MOU defined a new Senior Services Oversight Board (SSOB). The regional board will be comprised of the county manager, one person from each town, and the Council on Aging director from each Island town. Financial expenditures, staffing decisions, expansion of services, and program offerings at the new Center for Living, which will be named the Martha’s Vineyard Senior Center, will be under the purview of the SSOB. Town COA directors will not be voting members. Although Ms. Thornton said the MOU had been signed by every other town board of selectmen and reviewed by town counsel and lawyers for the county, Oak Bluffs selectmen chose to delay a decision until their next regular meeting, on July 14, so Gail Barmakian, a selectman and lawyer, could “tighten up” the language of the MOU.

In other business, Carlos Pena, vice president of CLE Engineering, showed selectmen plans for the upcoming North Bluff seawall fortification and boardwalk. “It took seven years of intense planning and fundraising, but we finally have a good plan and the money to do it,” Mr. Pena said. The $5.6 million in total funding for the project is comprised of a $3.6 million grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) dam and seawall fund, and $2 million from the state Seaport Advisory Council. Steel sheeting will encapsulate the current crumbling seawall. The 12-foot-wide boardwalk will run from the harbor to the fishing pier. It will have benches and low-level lighting, and will provide beach access. Mr. Pena said the project will go out to bid on August 1, the contract will be awarded in mid-October, and it should be completed by June 30, 2016. Mr. Pena added that the ultimate goal is to extend the boardwalk to the SSA terminal, and then to Inkwell Beach.

Selectmen also unanimously voted to extend imbibing hours in Oak Bluffs bars and restaurants to 1:30 am on July 3, 4, and 5.