Barwick may be out as building inspector


The Tisbury board of selectmen made more than two dozen appointments to jobs and committees Tuesday night, but it was who was missing from the list of appointees that was striking. Building inspector Ken Barwick and DPW director Ray Tattersall were left off the list, while harbormaster John Crocker and town accountant Suzanne Kennedy were reappointed to their respective positions.

“It’s a personnel matter, so I can’t really comment,” town administrator Jay Grande said after the meeting. “These are technically holdovers … They continue with current duties and responsibilities, they’re just holdovers.”

Grande said he expects “everything will be sorted out by the end of July” with regard to appointments. “We’re just trying to move forward methodically, carefully — the selectmen and myself. There are things I can’t speak to.”

Questions have been raised about Barwick’s handling of the Mill House demolition. The building was razed before it was referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, even though parts of it were built prior to the Revolutionary War. Barwick has since ordered all work to stop at the Mill House site, and the MVC has begun its review of what happened.

Barwick told The Times he was not at Tuesday’s meeting because his mother was in failing health. She died Wednesday. He said he wasn’t aware he was left off the selectmen’s list of appointees, though that would not be a first.

“Sometimes I’m appointed whenever they appoint other people, other times it’s been in September or October or before the calendar year was out,” he said, noting he’s been in the building department for 34 years. “I do know from counsel that if they do not take action on an appointment — anybody’s appointment, whether it be mine, the police chief, or DPW director — the appointment is still valid from the previous appointment, if you will.”

Barwick said a decision to dismiss him would require a hearing. “If they don’t want to reappoint me from something that I did or didn’t do, that I should have done or something … they are required by [Chapter] 143 to hold a hearing, what they refer to as a show-cause hearing to say this is what our concerns are and blah, blah, blah — and give me a chance to respond to them,” Barwick said. “I really can’t speak to why I wasn’t on their list. Maybe they have other plans for me.”

Barwick said he did receive an email from Grande and selectmen chair Melinda Loberg to meet about his department’s future in early July. He has also hinted that retirement is a possibility.

“I have been talking to the retirement board. I’ll say after 34 years, I have some baggage, if you will. A couple of pieces of litigation to clean up. I would like to get out of here with a clean slate, so to speak,” he told The Times.

The town has approved funding for another inspector in the office to help ease the building department’s workload, but has not yet hired anyone.

Tattersall was in the audience of Tuesday’s meeting answering questions about a proposed change in the local dropoff (LDO) hours for trash and recycling. The board ultimately voted unanimously to reverse a decision to close the LDO on Sundays and instead will keep it open six days a week, despite Tattersall’s concerns that he might have difficulty staffing the LDO for six days.

Kirk Metell, the town’s facilities manager, has been moved back into the DPW building and is the man in charge, Grande confirmed. “There was a desire to have them under one roof,” he said to help ease staffing shortages. “I would refer to Kirk as the team leader at this point.”

Reached Wednesday, Tattersall said he has no issues with the decision after meeting with Grande. “I’m still doing what I do. Nothing’s changed for me,” Tattersall said.

The board also paused when it came time to reappoint town counsel Kopelman & Paige, putting off a discussion on the town’s attorney until its July 9 meeting.

Board members also refused to appoint two new members to the Community Preservation committee, not because they had any issues with the two people but because they want to make their position clear on the role of the committee.

“I don’t like the direction of the [Community Preservation committee],” selectman Jim Rogers said.

Grande said the issue with that committee is over scheduling. He had asked them to allow town departments to apply for Community Preservation money after the busy summer months, but the board issued a deadline for August. The committee has been known to hold meetings on federal holidays, also, forcing paid staff to give up a holiday to attend their meetings, Grande said.

Beer’s repeating

As it stands right now, Beach Road Weekend will be a dry event. The three-day festival, August 9-12, headlined by John Fogerty and Phil Lesh, has requested to sell beer and wine, but thus far the town hasn’t approved a license.

The board did ask Grande to get a definitive answer on whether a license could be issued for the event, which the majority of the board seems to support. At issue is whether the special legislation approved for alcohol licenses in Tisbury allows licenses to be issued on town property like Veterans Memorial Park where the festival is being staged.

“I’d like to see how to get this done,” selectman Jeff Kristal said about allowing the sale of alcohol.

“We’d rather exercise some control over this,” chair Melinda Loberg said.

The board did unanimously support allowing Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment and the festival promoter, to begin playing music on Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon instead of 1 pm so that he can incorporate some local bands into the festival.

Meanwhile, Esptein told the board that SeaStreak has entered into a contract to make some runs from Vineyard Haven at 10 pm each night to accommodate concertgoers after the SSA has finished its service for the night.

The shuttle bus service from remote parking lots was tested using Camp Jabberwocky’s bus, Epstein said. “Everything worked perfectly.”

A public outreach meeting for the concert has been scheduled by Beach Road Weekend on July 11. It will be held at Katharine Cornell Theater.

In other business, selectmen heard once again from Plastic Free MV about their proposed ban on plastic bottles. While selectmen are still supportive of the concept, they once again asked the youngsters to do some outreach with Vineyard Haven businesses that would be affected by the ban.

Selectmen approved the hiring of Charlie Duquette and Dan Durawa as full-time police officers, going with Chief Mark Saloio’s recommendation of not sending them to the police academy until after the busy summer season. Both officers, who have been working as special police officers, have a 270-day waiver before they have to go for the training, Saloio said.

One of them will go in October and the other in February, he said. Saloio praised the two men for “being part of the glue that kept the agency together” during a staffing shortage when he took over. Juan S. Sanchez Roa was appointed as a traffic safety officer by the board.

Selectmen approved an increase in construction and demolition fees charged by Bruno’s Roll-Off to cover charges they’re incurring to haul debris off-Island to Rhode Island and sometimes even to New York State. The increase goes from $203.40 to $233.67 per ton, and is effective immediately. 

“We’re producing way too much waste in this community,” Josh Forend of Bruno’s said, noting that costs keep climbing to haul it off-Island. “We really need to come together and figure out better results.”

Later, selectmen admitted they made a mistake when they agreed to close the LDO on Sundays. Beth Tessmer, a secretary for the DPW, recommended they change the two days that it’s closed to Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but selectman Jim Rogers objected. “I don’t like back-to-back days off,” he said. The concern is that people will illegally dump their trash, he said.

Ultimately, the board decided to keep the LDO open for six days a week and re-evaluate in the fall.



  1. Public Trust, I agree, no one on the island can carry a presentation or a conversation like Barwick.
    However, it would be nice if someone would come out of hiding, stand up and state they are responsible for Tisburys oldest house demolished into a dumpster.

  2. I have been in construction on this island for 33 years. Ken is the most reasonable building inspector I have encountered. He enforces the laws, but he also works with and respects the builders.

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