Tisbury selectmen discuss harbor, snow removal

The Tisbury board of selectmen met Tuesday night, tackling a hefty agenda that included department budget reports, costs for snow removal, and appointing members to the Waterways and Harbor Planning Committee.

Selectmen voted unanimously to accept five people who have been appointed by various boards as members of the new committee, which will handle the 18-month moratorium for new non-water-dependent uses or vessels in the harbor that was put in place in November. Members include selectman Tristan Israel, James Lobdell of the Harbor Management Committee, James Tilton of the Shellfish Advisory Committee, Benjamin Robinson of the Planning Board, and Jane Varkonda of the Tisbury Conservation Commission (Ms. Varkonda is also the agent for the Edgartown Conservation Commission).

Four residents also applied to be members. Selectmen voted unanimously for Phil Hale, owner of Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, to be appointed to the committee as a member at large, not as a business owner, and for Tisbury resident Roger Moffat. Motions made by selectman Larry Gomez to appoint Barbara Lampson, executive assistant to the town administrator and selectmen, and Jeffrey Canha, Tisbury artist and commercial fisherman, failed over what selectmen chairman Melinda Loberg and Mr. Israel considered “conflicts of interest.”

The discussion over harbor use began last summer when Mr. Canha moored a floating art studio in Vineyard Haven Harbor. There was a tense exchange on Tuesday night between Mr. Canha and Mr. Israel, where Mr. Israel made it clear that he did not believe Mr. Canha should be a committee member. Mr. Gomez disagreed, saying that Mr. Canha would make the committee more diverse.

In other business, town administrator Jay Grande told selectmen that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission will meet on Thursday at 7 pm to review the referral of Santander Bank in Vineyard Haven as a development of regional impact (DRI) after the building’s historic tiled roof was replaced with asphalt shingles.

Ray Tattersall, director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), discussed the nearly $30,000 cost of the last snowstorm for Tisbury, when the Vineyard received a foot of snow. The DPW paid $20,000 to private contractors and $6,200 to town employees. The rest of the expenses were purchasing new equipment, such as snow blades.

The budget for snow removal was set at $15,000 by Massachusetts General Laws, and selectmen approved the town’s expenditure over the budgeted amount. The issue had been sent to the Tisbury Finance Committee (FinCom), and selectmen proposed that the budget be $30,000 for the next fiscal year.

The town had two snow blowers to clear sidewalks, and Mr. Tattersall said their priorities are State Road, downtown Vineyard Haven, in front of the Steamship Authority (SSA), and the sidewalks that lead to the Tisbury School. Mr. Israel asked that people be patient when waiting for their roads to be plowed, clarifying that primary roads are cleared first.

Some residents were unhappy that the local drop-off (LDO) for trash disposal was closed during the storm. Ms. Loberg said that snow removal comes first and that during a storm, it would be likely that the LDO was closed. Residents can check the town website for changes.

Mr. Grande discussed the possible creation of a natural resource department or director, with the harbor department and the shellfish department working together and being housed in the same place at Owen Park. He hopes this will help in terms of better planning, enforcement, and “bridging the gap” between the two departments.

Selectmen voted unanimously to have him work with FinCom and others to encourage more cooperation between the two departments.

Selectmen heard budget reports from many of the town departments. Jeff Kristal, chairman of Tisbury FinCom and the Zoning Board of Appeals, told selectmen that the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) would be a better indicator of budgets, as many of them are “in flux.”

Town treasurer Jon Snyder told The Times on Wednesday that the Information Technology (IT) Department is now consolidating IT-related costs from other departments — taking away from one department and adding to the IT Department.

“So, it looks like the IT budget is going up significantly when really it’s just consolidating pieces from other departments,” Mr. Snyder said.