Kovack hired as full-time officer

Police Chief Bruce McNamee, right, asks Edgartown selectmen to approve the appointment of Gary Kovack, left, to full-time officer. — Brian Dowd

Edgartown selectmen unanimously approved the appointment of Gary Kovack to full-time police officer at their meeting Monday.

Kovack has been working at the town police department as a special officer for the past year. His previous experience includes 10 years of service in the Coast Guard. In 2017, Kovack was awarded the 2017 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the governor of Maryland. He finished his 10-year Coast Guard career at Station Menemsha, where he helped train the Edgartown Police Department when the got a new patrol boat.

Kovack lives in Vineyard Haven with his wife and 20-month-old daughter. “He married into a longtime Island family,” Police Chief Bruce McNamee said. “So he’s not going anywhere. He’s going to be with us for a long time.”

Kovack must complete pre-employment testing before attending the new police academy at Joint Base Cape Cod, starting on July 8. Once he completes police training, he will become an officer.

The academy is a boon for Cape and Island police departments. It allows departments to train future officers on the Cape, and even offers a housing option for officers attending the academy for $42 a night.

In other business, Edgartown resident Gerry Moriarty asked selectmen to come up with more creative ways to tackle the housing crisis on the Island. She said people are being forced to leave the Island they’ve called home because there are no options — especially for elderly people.

Moriarty’s comments come in the wake of the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank being denied by voters at town meetings in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and Chilmark.

“I think there needs to be more low-income housing, more affordable housing, more housing for teachers, and policemen, and firemen,” Moriarty said. “The emphasis needs to be on year-round housing.”

Mark Hess, chairman of the town’s affordable housing committee, said the Housing Bank did a great job of bringing the issue of affordable housing to the forefront.

Edgartown is working on an affordable housing development off Meshacket Road. Hess said he plans to have an RFP presented to selectmen within a month or two.

“I think we have done a lot in Edgartown,” selectman Maragret Serpa said. “I’ve lived here my whole life, in Edgartown, so I’ve seen some of the changes, and you cannot stop some of the changes. We have spent, from Community Preservation, over $3 million … for housing issues in Edgartown.”

Selectmen also approved selectman Art Smadbeck as the town’s representative to the Martha’s Vineyard regional agreement subcommittee.