M.V. Arena work is temporarily frozen

Oak Bluffs planning board and the zoning board of appeals approved the $3.7 renovation of the MV Ice Arena. — Stacey Rupolo

updated April 2, 4:30 pm

The $3.7 million renovation of the Martha’s Vineyard Arena was skating along ahead of schedule until March 23, when Oak Bluffs building inspector Mark Barbadoro issued a stop-work order for lack of proper permitting.

Initially both parts of the project — construction of the new ice surface and renovation of the building — were halted. This Thursday, work on the ice surface resumed after Mr. Barbadoro issued a permit for that portion of the work.

“That, in my view, is what the last variance and special permit allowed for, so nothing has changed,” Mr. Barbadoro said. “In the interest in getting it ready for the fall, I’m going to allow the rink surface to be built. But that’s all I’m going to do right now.”  

But work on the arena building will not resume until the project goes before the the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) and the Oak Bluffs Planning Board (OBPB). “As far I can tell, that project needs a development of regional impact [DRI] review, site plan review, and special permit,” Mr. Barbadoro said. “The 1,960-square-foot addition triggers a site plan review by the planning board because it’s expanding the building by over 500 square feet. The special permit is required because the building will provide indoor recreation.”

In a March 29 email to The Times, Geoghan Coogan, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Arena board, explained the source of the snafu: “Due to some miscommunication between the Arena and town of Oak Bluffs regarding various permitting issues, the town issued a stop-work order late last week. The Arena has complied with that order, has met with town officials, and [is] expecting to proceed with the project immediately. We appreciate the support and guidance from the town of Oak Bluffs, and should remain on schedule.”

Asked specifically what the miscommunication was, Mr. Coogan replied in a March 31 email, “The only work which began was routine end-of-year maintenance, and the commencement of demolition when the stop-work order was issued. A permit for the renovation work was submitted on Feb. 17, 2017.”

In a March 22 letter to the MVC, Geoghan Coogan, president of the board of directors for Martha’s Vineyard Arena, described the top-down restoration of the ailing facility, which will replace virtually everything but the new roof: “The lobby is being completely gutted, renovated, and enlarged to modern standards. The renovation will provide a cleaner and larger viewing area.”

In addition, Mr. Coogan said, the proposal is to provide a newly outfitted concession area. The current arena replaced its concession area with vending machines years ago, due to a lack of multiple hand-washing sinks. The new proposal has a fully functional concession area. However, the arena has yet to determine whether that space will be used as a concession area or whether it will remain a vending area.

“The only expansion of the footprint of the lobby is a very modest 100-square-foot bumpout to an existing wall, to accommodate the full area of the concession proposal,” Mr. Coogan said.

OBPB chairman Brian Packish said the board will act quickly on the special permit and site-plan review, and he expects a quick resolution. “The planning board has never turned down anyone for any permit since I’ve been there,” he said. “We may have conditioned things, but our track record is one hundred percent approval. We’ll get all our ducks in a row, but we’re not going to hold hearings before the MVC has made its decision.”

A public hearing on the arena will be held at the MVC on April 13. “This is a great project for the Island,” MVC executive director Adam Turner said.  “We’re moving on it quickly, but we’re also going to do our homework.”

MV Arena is on the April 20 planning board meeting agenda. It is also on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) agenda later that day — “to allow renovations and the construction of a nonconforming addition to a pre-existing, nonconforming commercial building located on a conforming lot in Residential Zone 3,” according to the ZBA agenda.

“In my four years on the planning board, this is the first time I’ve seen a project go before us and the ZBA on the same day,” Mr. Packish said.

“We all agree that the primary concern is to get that rink up and running, but to do it in the proper way,” Mr. Barbadoro said.

“The project is back on track, and we expect from this point forward that all systems are go,” Mr. Coogan wrote in an email to The Times on Friday.

The arena is scheduled to reopen on Oct. 1.

This post was updated on April 2 to include Mr. Coogan’s emails to The Times explaining miscommunication with Oak Bluffs.