Oak Bluffs selectmen took the first step in assessing what parking might look like along Dennis Alley Park, also known as Waban Park.
Several business owners and town stakeholders requested that the town conduct a survey of Waban Park to see if parking on Nantucket and Tuckernuck avenues would be viable.
Oak Bluffs Association executive director Christine Todd, who put the discussion on the agenda, said it would help alleviate downtown congestion, and lead to improving the aesthetic of the park.
“The first step is to actually know where the boundaries of the park are,” Todd said. “There’s no intention of paving the park for parking spots, or allowing for parking in the park itself … it’s strictly to maximize the potential we have on the streets that surround the park.”
Dockside Inn owner John Tiernan was passionate in his support of studying parking. He stressed that no one was asking to take any parkland, only studying the viability of parking alongside the park.
“None of us that are calling for parking along Waban Park have any interest in taking even an inch of the parkland,” Tiernan said. “We want the town to spend the money to survey the park to see; do those roads around Waban Park, specifically near Nantucket Avenue, if it’s a 40-foot road, it will absolutely accommodate angled parking without taking an inch of the park whatsoever.”
Selectman Gail Barmakian added that it was more complicated than Tiernan described. She said having parking along Waban Park posed several issues related to land contour, flooding, and access that have been looked at by the town.
Todd and Tiernan both wanted to see selectman Gail Barmakian recuse herself from the discussion. Barmakian said her mother owns 30 percent of a home on Nantucket Avenue.
Barmakian said she did not think she needed to recuse herself, as she did not have a financial interest.
Ann Smith, a Nashawena Avenue resident, took issue with parking along the park, and asked to be put on any committee that discusses parking around Waban.
“I’ve expressed my concern in the past, certainly in terms of angled parking on Tuckernuck. It is already extremely crowded, based on the Inkwell parking with children and families especially in the summertime, and having another car come down the way is extremely treacherous,” Smith said.
In his first meeting as a selectman after being voted in at the annual town election last week, selectman Ryan Ruley motioned to have the parks and highway departments meet, discuss what parking might look like, and report back to the board. He also asked to have town administrator Robert Whritenour look into the cost of surveying the park.
“I think this is a very, very small step, and it gets us into the area of getting some education so we can make some informed decisions going forward with the right groups involved,” Ruley said.
Selectman approved Ruley’s request 4-1, with Barmakian voting against.
In other business, selectmen restructured the board by appointing selectman Jason Balboni as the new chair, taking the reins from selectman Brian Packish. Selectman Greg Coogan will take over as vice chair. Balboni thanked Packish for his leadership over the past year. “I hope I can serve and do a great job this year also,” Balboni said.
Packish and Balboni also thanked former selectman Michael Santoro for his many years of service on the board.