Oak Bluffs planners OK ice arena plans

Approval granted ahead of official vote by MVC.

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

The Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena has almost all the permission it needs to complete work on its $3.7 million renovation. On Wednesday, April 19, the arena got approvals from both Oak Bluffs planning board and its zoning board of appeals for plans to improve its infrastructure and to add 2,250 feet of additional space for a warmup area and a future kitchen.

Vote for approval came after a public hearing was opened, then closed without public comment on the arena request for a special permit and site plan review. The permits are needed to perform interior renovations and to add a 2,250-square-foot multipurpose room. Following the planning board meeting, the arena team met with the town zoning board to get a needed variance from setback requirements.

The planning board vote was intended to expedite the approval process, and mirrors the draft approved by voice vote by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) the previous week. Planning board approval requires that the draft plan remain unchanged in the final MVC approval document. The MVC’s formal vote is expected to come this week, after which the approval document will be prepared and disseminated. The ice arena had received an informal MVC go-ahead last week after the commission completed its review of the project’s regional impact on the Island.

Before the planning board vote, the five-member board engaged arena general manager Peter Lambos and attorney Marilyn Vukota in a robust round of questioning for nearly 40 minutes. Their queries generally related to parking, environmental issues, and future uses.

Planning board members explained that their scope of inquiry related not just to the arena plans but also with an eye toward planning for the future because of the proximity of high-traffic facilities on that section of the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. The arena, the YMCA, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, and an industrial park neighbor are all located across the street from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

“This area will be a center of facilities used by the entire Island,” planning board member Bo Fehl said.

Several weeks ago, the renovation project hit a temporary roadblock when outgoing Oak Bluffs building inspector Mark Barbadoro temporarily shut down work at the arena for several days over permitting questions that he and arena representatives later described as “miscommunication” between the parties.