Mill House demo leads to new protocol

Tisbury selectmen also get update on Beach Road Weekend, and grantapalooza.

Demolition of the Mill House has prompted a new protocol in the building inspector's office. - George Brennan

A meeting between builder Peter Rosbeck Jr., building inspector Ken Barwick, historic commission chairman Harold Chapdelaine, and Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) officials was held privately Tuesday to discuss the premature demolition of the Mill House, Barwick told Tisbury selectmen Tuesday night.

While the selectmen have yet to discuss the Mill House publicly, chair Melinda Loberg told The Times in a recent interview that she is concerned about the demolition of the building, which had a section that dated to before the American Revolution.

Board members asked no questions of Barwick during his update, and town administrator Jay Grande attempted to move him off that topic by bringing up a sidewalk project at Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

But Barwick touched on the subject again.

All buildings targeted for demolition that predate 1900 are supposed to go to the commission before any work commences. MVC officials were irked at a recent meeting at the lack of notice on the project and the history lost to the wrecking ball.

A second fact-finding meeting will be held in June before the Mill House review goes to the commission’s Land Use Planning Committee, and then the full commission, Barwick said. In the meantime, work has stopped on the $2.9 million renovation project.

Barwick has said he didn’t refer the project to the MVC because the building application only called for interior demolition, though architect Patrick Ahearn has written in a letter that the project did not meet the criteria for commission review.

The town is in the process of creating a database of 100 year old buildings.

“Our protocol … in the office now, as opposed to looking at other items when applications and plans come in, the first thing now — now that Mr. Barwick has got a kick in the back of the head from a variety of people — we are first looking at field cards to check the date as to when these buildings were constructed, to see when they were constructed before we give them anything,” Barwick said.

In what has been another sore spot for Barwick, he updated the board on the roof tiles for the Santander Bank building. In that case in 2016, Barwick authorized a permit for the bank to replace its clay tile roof with asphalt shingles. Ultimately, the board of selectmen stepped in and referred the case to the MVC, which ordered the bank to replace the roof again with the clay tiles.

Santander has since closed the branch, and is attempting to sell the building. Barwick said there were some issues with the shape, length, and width of the tiles that were presented. He said the town seeks “continuity across the property” before it will make final approval on the roof work.

Tuned in to Beach Road Weekend

The board of selectmen signed a final license agreement for Beach Road Weekend, but has not yet given the OK for beer and wine to be served at the Aug. 9-11 music festival at Veterans Memorial Park.

Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment, made another plea to be able to serve alcohol at the event, which is being headlined by John Fogerty and Phil Lesh and Friends.

Selectmen, while approving the licensing agreement, asked Grande to get a definitive answer on whether an alcohol license can be granted to Epstein. Epstein said he’s willing to issue wrist bands to limit the amount of alcohol per person, but is hoping for the success of the festival that some will be allowed.

“The revenue generated is important, and safety considerations are also important,” Epstein said, reiterating what Police Chief Mark Saloio said at an earlier meeting, that issuing a license would be easier for police than people sneaking booze into the festival if it’s alcohol-free.

Under the agreement, Epstein agrees to pay the town $83,000, much of it for expected police and fire. The festival is paying $25,000 for the location, and has also agreed to reimburse for things like DPW needs that have not yet been determined. The 50 percent deposit is due June 1.

The agreement also prohibits sale of alcohol unless another separate license is reached. Epstein has also been required to take out a $5 million insurance policy, and is responsible for preventing illegal drug activity, according to the agreement.

Questioned by selectman Jim Rogers about complaints he’d received about neighborhood outreach, Epstein said he personally walked Lagoon Pond Road and Causeway Street on Mother’s Day morning, leaving notes with his phone number, email address, and he’s even created a portal on the Beach Road Weekend website for feedback. “I believe in full disclosure,” he said. “I’ve been an open book.”

Rogers said he was satisfied.

After giving a detailed report about bus transportation, which has been settled and includes the Camp Jabberwocky bus, and parking, which is still in flux, Epstein said a neighborhood meeting will be held closer to the event to work out any last-minute details. “I’ve been working my butt off,” he said.

Selectman Jeff Kristal, who has been a proponent of the event even before joining the board, said he’s looking forward to it. “It’s exciting. It really is,” Kristal said.

Grants, grants, and more grants

Selectmen authorized Saloio and harbormaster John Crocker to seek a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for a new patrol boat that would be mostly used by the harbormaster, but could have both police and fire uses as well.

“This is a state-of-the-art boat,” Crocker said, noting that the Coast Guard and Environmental Police both recommended the town seek the grant. “It would easily meet all of our needs.”

The boat would require a 25 percent match by the town for the estimated $350,000 boat, which would have to be approved by voters at town meeting next April, Saloio said.

“I did not see this on your capital plan,” Kristal said. “Do you need a boat?”

Crocker said it’s an opportunity, and would allow the town to get rid of some of the vessels it has now. “It’s a proven boat,” he said.

Selectmen also heard detailed reports on grants the town is seeking from the state Department of Environmental Protection to beef up its recycling programs and coastal resiliency, which they authorized pending a review of the town’s finance department on how the town would be reimbursed.

Loberg said she’s never seen so many grants proposed. “This is money the taxpayers don’t have to be responsible for,” she said.

Board members also liked what they heard about Island Grown Initiative’s composting program to reduce the amount of food waste shipped off-Island, but said they want Grande to work with Eunice Youmans of IGI on the particulars and come back with an implementation plan.

In other business, on what was a busy night for the board, Loberg asked for a moment of silence for former selectman and firefighter Fred Thifault, who died recently.

Rogers, who also worked for the fire department, spoke about Thifault’s service to the town and how he used to help Thifault keep his car wash running. “He was a great man,” Rogers said.

Sandra Demel was appointed to the conservation commission through 2022. “I love the small town and hands-on government here,” Demel told the board, noting her interest in the environment. “I want to keep it going here, and uphold the values I appreciate in the community.”

The board also appointed Patrick Souza and Carla Gomes as special police officers on the recommendation of Saloio.

Board members expressed frustration with communications back and forth with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank over the Land Bank’s new property at Herring Cove Road. The town owns the adjacent beach, and has concerns about how many people the Land Bank property might attract to the remote part of Tisbury.

“I’m concerned with the tenor of the letter,” Rogers said.

Ultimately, the board, minus Loberg who recused herself because she owns a nearby property, decided a joint meeting with the Land Bank might be the best way to air their concerns. “We need to be more specific in our approach,” Kristal said.

Although the board has been on record as opposing MassDOT’s plans for a shared-use path on Beach Road, they did approve a right-of-way entry near Wind’s Up. Though Rogers has been opposed to any land takings involved in the project, he said he supports the request near Wind’s Up because it mitigates a problem.

The board heard an update from Vineyard Haven library director Amy Ryan on a proposed renovation project. A conceptual design has been completed, and the library will seek feedback at a meeting on June 3 at 6 pm at the library. “It’s been an exhaustive process,” she said.

Selectmen also approved a renewal of the Vineyard Haven Cultural District, which is now bookended by the library and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Selectmen took no action on the latest request by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to use excess and deficiency funds. The board wants the issue to be addressed at an all-Island board of selectmen meeting before the 45-day deadline to call a special town meeting. The high school process has been criticized by other boards, including Oak Bluffs and Chilmark. Kristal said school officials are aware of the frustration, and are working on a new process.

You’ll be able to fill your reusable water bottle soon at Veterans Memorial Park, Owen Park, and at the restrooms in the town parking lot. Selectmen approved Vineyard Conservation Society’s proposal to install refill stations at all three locations.