Updated 8 pm
In an email to the Vineyard’s town administrators Tuesday, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Denise Schepici indicated she was fearful of the Island-wide construction moratorium being lifted prematurely.
“I am so incredibly concerned about the desire to lift the construction ban and I’d appreciate being heard as I think we are making a dire mistake even if only for two person jobs,” she wrote. “It’s like opening Pandora’s box.”
Schepici went on to write that she hopes further guidance from the commonwealth will come next week.
On the strength of her position, Chilmark selectmen and the Chilmark board of health each voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon not to take any action on lifting restrictions in Chilmark. Instead the boards continued their deliberation on the subject until 5pm Thursday.
Island towns have instituted a ban on all construction, with the exception of emergencies, through April 21.
A working group made up of building commissioners, health officials, and tradespeople from across the Island has been working on draft guidelines aimed at phasing in construction workers.
During the Tisbury board of selectmen meeting Tuesday afternoon, health agent Maura Valley told the board that earlier in the day the board of health approved phase 1 of the guidelines to let small crews go back to work. Valley called it a “thoughtful, measured approach.”
Valley said it would only allow one or two-person crews and there would be safety measures in place. “My concern is if we don’t start looking at ways to safely get them back to work, they’re just going to go back to work anyway,” she said.
Ross Seavey, the town’s building commissioner, said he has caught some one and two-person crews out working. “That’s what we’re seeing and right now. The toughest thing, which I think we’ve expressed, is at some point we’re even going to lose traction on the enforcement because I hear everyday from people that they know of other people who are out working in other towns. But Tisbury is keeping a really tight lid on it and they can’t work here and that feels really unfair to people. There’s only so long that can go on before we have a mutiny.”
After a half-hour discussion, the board of selectmen held off taking a vote until they have a chance to hear from Schepici in more detail about her concerns.
In Oak Bluffs, selectmen voiced their opposition to the draft guidelines that seek to allow small crews.
Selectman Gail Barmakian took objection to the draft guidelines, saying the guidelines were ambiguous and had a lack of enforceability.
“On the whole I don’t think I can vote on this. I’d like to vote for something. There’s too much in here that doesn’t seem appropriate,” she said.
Selectman Brian Packish agreed.
“I wouldn’t be willing to support the guidelines as presented,” Packish said.
But Packish said it was a board of health order and could be put into place without selectmen support.
Brian Dowd and George Brennan contributed to this report. Updated to include both Tisbury and Oak Bluffs.