Tisbury embarks on Expedition Blue

Outdoor dining and Pie Chicks get the greenlight.

A rendering for an Expedition Blue installation in Bourne. A similar exhibit could be coming to Tisbury.

Bert Jackson, director of community engagement for the Blue Economy Project at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, came before the Tisbury select board Tuesday to pitch Expedition Blue, an outdoor installation project meant to spotlight the local blue economy.

Jackson said the installations, which range from signposts to cubelike structures, are meant to highlight water-related industries and the regional identities and economic opportunities that come from those industries. 

Jackson said the Blue Expedition initiative follows an extensive report on the state of the regional blue economy in 2017, and is funded by the Seaport Economic Council. 

“It is a way to tell the story of the blue economy in the region,” he said. “The blue economy is really a big part of what balances our economic and environmental health.” 

The installations, which he described as derived from a “kit of parts” designed by the company Cambridge Seven, have responsive websites tying them together via passive RFID (radio frequency identification) chips for smartphones, or QR (quick response) codes and URL codes for older phones. The websites are meant to convey more information than can be showcased in the installation. 

“This is a 21st century installation,” Jackson said. “So it’s a blend of a physical and a virtual experience.”

Some installations are designed to frame views, some have benches built into them, and others are two or more connected cubes. 

Thus far, 11 towns have responded with proposals for the Blue Expedition project, he said. Nantucket, Bourne, and Falmouth are among the communities participating. 

One of Jackson’s biggest selling points was the cost. “We would come and install it, and it is a gift to the town,” he said. 

The town would be responsible for any permits needed, and the installations can only be placed on public land, he said. 

“We do ask that the town agree to maintain the physical structure for 15 years; however, all the parts have a longer warranty than 15 years,” he said. Specially treated, “thermally modified” wood used comes with at least a 25-year warranty, he said. And the steel frames have a 20-year warranty. “Outside of vandalism,” there’s not much potential for maintenance, he said. 

Select board member Jeff Kristal said he thought the vicinity of the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge, Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, and the R.M. Packer Marine Terminal seemed best suited for such an installation. He said the area has a number of projects underway, and presents the opportunity “to express what it was, what it is, and what the future is going to look like.” 

Select board member Jim Rogers asked who would come up with the stories the installation told. 

Jackson said the town does, and the Blue Expedition team then helps to visualize those stories. 

Select board chair Melinda Loberg said she thought land along the bike path between the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge, the end of Beach Road Extension, and the area around the harbormaster’s office all showed promise as sites for Blue Expedition installations. 

Jackson said the first step would be a letter of commitment from the town. Permits for any installations should be secured by the end of July, he said.

In a unanimous vote, the board authorized town administrator Jay Grande to draft a notice of Tisbury’s intention to participate in the program. 

“We’re looking forward to working with you on this,” Loberg said.

In other business, in a unanimous vote, the board authorized Grande to “review and approve applicants for outdoor dining and alcohol service,” an action meant to thaw some COVID-19 restrictions on restaurateurs. 

The board voted unanimously to authorize a common victualer’s license for Pie Chicks’ new retail location at 395 State Road. 

Chrissy Kinsman, owner of Pie Chicks, said renovation of the space is not yet done. For the coming month, she said, she plans to operate the wholesale end of her business from there. 

“We’re just excited to get resettled and get into a new space with new energy, and make some pie for y’all,” she said.

“Sounds great to me,” Rogers said.