Ernie Boch Jr.: Park is ‘going to be beautiful’

Beach Road proposal gets permit, but it’s unclear if public will have access to park.

The Boch family is proposing to build a park on this empty lot at 20 Beach Road. — Stacey Rupolo

A permit for a proposed Vineyard Haven park, expected to pay tribute to Ernie Boch Sr., automobile magnate and Edgartown resident, has been approved by the Tisbury conservation commission, Jane Varkonda, the town’s conservation agent, told The Times.

The Boch family is planning a park on Beach Road on about three-quarters of an acre located between The Times offices at 30 Beach Road and the Tropical Restaurant at 13 Beach St. It will feature flower gardens, a large lawn, and a boardwalk with benches overlooking the harbor.

“It will have an ethereal nautical theme,” Ernie Boch Jr. told The Times. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

The Bochs ran into legal issues when they tried to use the lot as a parking lot, and the idea of building harborside condominiums didn’t fit within the town’s zoning regulations, which require a marine purpose for new construction in that area.

“I hold no grudges,” Mr. Boch said.

Last year, a dilapidated building was demolished and removed from the property, and Mr. Boch announced plans for the park. Since then, the lot, lined with concrete barriers along the sidewalk and with a single utility pole that has coiled wire at its base, has been vacant, with weeds overtaking the grounds.

“Beach Road needs it,” Mr. Boch said. “Revitalization has to happen, and revitalization of Beach Road needs to start somewhere.”

The conservation commission did put some conditions on the park, but Ms. Varkonda said she has not yet finished the commission’s written decision, so she could not provide a copy of it to The Times.

An existing brick entryway would be removed, according to the plans on file with the town.

The plans for a park on Beach Road include a boardwalk. The park is being proposed by the Boch family.

Those plans show a compass rose design in a stone patio at the entrance to the gardens, behind a rod-iron gate that can be locked. The plans also show wooden fences on either side of the park between the existing buildings and the gardens.

The landscape plans show dozens of varieties of plants that encircle both the compass rose, as well as a large area that will be set aside for lawn.

Mr. Boch said the park could include a statue as tribute to his father, but he hasn’t decided yet. “I’m going to spend enough money that when people walk by, they’ll say, ‘Wow,’” he said, declining to put a dollar figure on it.

Ben Robinson, chairman of the planning board, said the plans were presented to the planning board last month as a courtesy. There are no special permits required because the Bochs aren’t looking to build a building or to use the park to rent for functions.

“They’re at the point now where they need to apply for a building permit,” Mr. Robinson said. That permit would cover the fences and boardwalks being built, he said.

Mr. Boch said he had hoped to begin construction in the spring, but ran into some issues. He could not say when construction might begin, now that the permits have been granted.

Contractors were at the site on Wednesday morning reviewing the plans with representatives of the Boch family. They referred questions to Mr. Boch.

The project was presented to the site review board Thursday, which includes members of the board of health, conservation commission, zoning board, planning board, and historic commission.

The proposed park features a number of benches around it, though it’s unclear who will sit in those benches.

“One of the biggest questions is how much public access will there be,” Mr. Robinson said. That remains up in the air, he said.

It was a question that Mr. Boch could not answer in his conversation with The Times. “My aim is true,” he said. “I want to do something that is beneficial to the Island.”

The plans include gates on either end of the park that would be able to be closed and locked, Mr. Robinson said. The boardwalk area is planned as a spot that would be accessible to the public, and features four benches on a stretch of boardwalk that is parallel to the beach.

“It would improve the look of the area,” Mr. Robinson said. “We’ll see if the public gets any use or if they’re just allowed to look upon it.”