Water Street sidewalk gets a facelift

The Island’s ‘busiest sidewalk’ will get a collaborative makeover.

The sidewalk outside the Black Dog Bakery in Vineyard Haven is slated for a much-needed fix. - Brian Dowd

Tisbury’s “busiest sidewalk,” and one of its strangest, with a curb more like a balance beam than a typical smooth edge, is about to get an upgrade. The board of selectmen approved reconstruction of the Water Street sidewalk in front of the Black Dog Bakery.

At Wednesday’s meeting, town administrator Jay Grande informed selectmen he had been working with Black Dog representatives, department of public works (DPW) director Ray Tattersall, and town building inspector Ken Barwick during the bakery’s renovation project. The bakery needed permission from the town because parts of the six-yard sidewalk are owned by the town.

The bakery, which is undergoing extensive renovations, is making its sidewalk ADA-compliant by elevating the curb, which will also help prevent flooding during rainstorms. There will be no changes to the sidewalk’s width, Grande said, and no alteration to drainage structures.

The curb defines a general property line between the bakery and the town, but the town’s property narrows on the Five Corners end, and is at its widest in front of the driveway next to the bakery.

Grande said the bakery is paying for the construction and labor because it is not on the town’s “immediate priority list at this time,” but the town and DPW understand the bakery needs to complete the project to open in the spring. Tattersall and the bakery came to an arrangement that would have DPW provide materials to help the project move along, but not reimburse the project’s contractor.

Barwick recommended a building permit that would cover the project’s bases and spread out the liability. The town would provide six yards of concrete, concrete dye, and flagger material, such as traffic cones or tape.

“There’s problems with the sidewalk — tripping hazards, some of it’s falling apart, as you know. It’s probably the busiest sidewalk seasonally, with the Steamship Authority on one end, the Black Dog in the middle, and the Five Corners on the other end,” Barwick said. “I’m interested from a liability standpoint … you have private funds from a private contractor working on public property — that bothers me.”

Selectman Jim Rogers said he agreed with Barwick. “I’m not opposed to public-private partnerships, but we have to make sure that they’re laid out … in a manner that helps the town,” Rogers said.

The sidewalk permit is separate and distinct from the Black Dog’s permit for renovations to its building.

In other business, the town held a budget review with harbormaster John Crocker. Crocker has written several articles for the town meeting warrant asking for money from the waterways fund to perform maintenance on moorings.

The town has 60 moorings in the harbor, and needs to replace 21 of its conservation moorings. Conservation moorings are made of rubber and rope, as opposed to chain moorings, which are made of lengths of chain.

The town has had ongoing issues with its moorings, and looks to make significant improvements to them. Moorings used to be inspected every three years, but are now inspected every other year.

Crocker will ask voters to use $50,000 from the waterways fund for mooring maintenance.