Oak Bluffs Planning Board seeks public opinion on a new town hall

An open house will be held on Feb. 1 to go over revised concepts for a new town hall in Oak Bluffs. — MV Times

The Oak Bluffs Planning Board (OBPB) will hold its first public forum to discuss the concept of a new town hall in the downstairs meeting room of the current town hall on Thursday, January 14 at 5 p.m.
“The board encourages anyone who has an opinion to show up at this Thursday’s meeting,” OBPB Brian Packish told The Times on Friday. “You will be heard.”
Mr. Packish told The Times on Saturday that the intention of the meeting is to start with a clean slate, not to vet a particular plan. “
We are more moving forward with the first question do the townspeople want a new town hall? Where should it be? What should it include etc.” he wrote in an email.
The Thursday meeting is an outgrowth of a request by selectmen last month that the planning board be responsible for public outreach. “I think there’s a lot of things the planning board wants to do with public input,” selectman Walter Vail said at the Dec. 1 meeting. “So let’s get a full range of public opinion and find out — do we want a town hall? Where do we want it? And how much are we willing to spend?”
At the same meeting, Bill McGrath, chairman of the capital improvements committee,  endorsed the vetting of plans that were drawn up in 2014 by Keenan + Kenny architects, designers of the new fire station. The designers estimated the 20,261 square foot building would have a price tag of $6.8 million building. The plans were approved on a voice vote at 2014 town meeting, then overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box two weeks later. Mr. McGrath said that the town can comfortably afford the building without raising taxes. “I don’t think anybody disagrees that we need a new building,” he said. “You can agree or not agree with the timing or the cost” he said.