Tisbury gets new local inspector

Ken Barwick, the town’s inspector for the past 34 years. is set to retire.

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Selectmen stand with newly appointed local building inspector Ross Seavey. — Brian Dowd

Tisbury selectmen appointed Ross Seavey as a local building inspector at their meeting Tuesday. 

Seavey joined the building department ahead of longtime building inspector Ken Barwick’s retirement Thursday. Barwick was not reappointed by selectmen in June.

Questions have been raised about Barwick’s handling of the Mill House demolition. The building was demolished before it was referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), even though portions of the home were pre–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. An MVC hearing for the Mill House has been set for August 22.

Barwick could not immediately be reached for comment, but said previously he planned to meet with the town to discuss the building department’s future. In June, he also alluded to retirement.

Seavey has been living on the Island for the past five years, having come from New Hampshire. He spent summers on the Island between semesters at law school. “I’m just excited that this is the next chapter of my life in construction, and I’m really excited to be a part of the town,” Seavey said.

Selectmen were happy to welcome Seavey to the town. “You’re coming at a very key pivotal time for us in the town and the building department,” selectman Melinda Loberg said.

Town administrator Jay Grande praised Seavey’s building experience, but also his law background. “Ross comes with a lot of skills and experience that will be very beneficial to the town,” Grande said.

 

Director search

Selectmen met with Police Chief Mark Saloio, Fire Chief John Schilling, and Harbormaster John Crocker to designate Crocker as the acting emergency management director. Saloio and Schilling will act in a supporting role.

Selectman Jeff Kristal felt it was not appropriate for any of the men to be the director because they had plenty of other responsibilities during emergencies.

“I think the individuals we’re talking about right now are going to have more on their plate when we do get into an emergency situation, be it a hurricane, a tornado, or whatever,” Kristal said.

The main responsibility of the director is to establish a plan in the event of an emergency. The plan would have to meld with the other Island towns to create an Island-wide emergency response plan. 

“Our current emergency management plan is 23 years old. It’s pre 9/11,” Saloio said. “It’s a very important issue. It’s one of the first things I noticed that’s extreme. It really needs attention.”

Selectmen also agreed to have a candidate in front of them at their Aug. 27 meeting.

In other business, Connie and Mark Alexander, residents of Meadow Lane, voiced concerns over affordable housing developments on Daggett Avenue in the Lake Tashmoo watershed zone. 

“The town of Tisbury has a very serious problem with one of our town boards. The problem is about corporate influence and conflicts of interest,” Mark Alexander said.

The Alexanders were concerned that three of the five members of Tisbury’s planning board, Dan Seidman, Cheryl Doble, and Elaine Miller, are also on the board or are committee members with the Island Housing Trust. 

Selectman Jim Rogers agreed, and said he was concerned about the ethics of the members serving both boards.

Alexander has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, and they are under investigation.

In her July 24 Letter to the Editor, Connie Alexander wrote how development in the area is harmful to the environment.

Selectmen have a joint meeting set on August 21 with the planning board to discuss the Daggett Avenue development.

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