Tisbury considers ‘designated port area’ for harbor

Vineyard Power ‘hub’ is impetus for state designation.

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Ralph Packer explains why he is asking the town to consider applying for a port designation for Vineyard Haven.

A proposal to create an offshore wind hub on the Vineyard Haven waterfront on land owned by R.M. Packer could be the driving force behind a state designation of the harbor as a designated port area.

On Tuesday, the board of selectmen in Tisbury heard a brief update on the possible designation by Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

Ralph Packer said he can request the designation, which would make permitting through the state Department of Environmental Protection easier, but he would like the town’s blessing. It could also be a good thing for other property owners on the harbor, he said.

While two board members — chair Melinda Loberg and Jim Rogers — appeared ready to allow CZM to study the designation, selectman Jeff Kristal asked the board to wait until Packer and Vineyard Power representatives come back on Oct. 29 to present their proposal to the board.

Richard Andre, president of Vineyard Power, told the board while Vineyard Wind has expressed interest in using the Vineyard Haven hub, he wanted it to be clear that it is being proposed for offshore wind, and could be used by other companies. He estimated that it could bring 50 new jobs to the waterfront.

While she described it as a complex designation, Susan Nelson, an engineer working with Packer, said it protects the waterfront for marine industrial uses. A partnership with the town is an “important component” for CZM to consider the designation, Nelson said. “It changes the lens through which the DEP will view the project.”

While the town has zoning to that effect for the waterfront, selectmen have expressed concerns recently that it has stalled revitalization of the harbor side of Beach Road. “That’s what we’re left with right now, the blight on Beach Road,” Kristal said.

He didn’t want to rush ahead without having an opportunity to talk with other property owners that abut Packer.

There are 10 other ports in Massachusetts that have designated port areas, but they are larger cities like Boston, New Bedford, and Fall River.

In other business, selectmen appointed Christina Whitney as a school crossing guard. Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio explained that Rosemary Littlefield, who had been appointed, was unable to take the position.

The board also appointed Lentson Daugherty to the board of registrars.

Pam Bennett’s promotion to human resources director was approved unanimously. Town administrator Jay Grande said Bennett has been performing the tasks and “deserved the title.”

Main Street will be closed on Halloween from 4 to 5 pm for a parade at the request of the Vineyard Haven Business Association. Selectmen wanted to make the parade closure, which is an annual event, in perpetuity, but will wait until they have a policy in place to handle similar recurring requests.

Hardship commercial shellfishing permits were authorized for Will Diamond, Lynne Fraker, Zenon Godek, Mike Snowden, and Albion Alley.

The board approved a contract for Daedalus Projects as the owner’s project manager for the Tisbury School project, pending some items to be finalized at a school building committee meeting Wednesday, Oct. 23.