Sunday street closures in O.B. moved to 11 am

Town reviews conservation restrictions.

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People dining on Circuit Avenue. Oak Bluffs has moved its Sunday street closures to 11 am to 10 pm. — Kyra Steck

Oak Bluffs selectmen unanimously approved to change the Sunday street closures for Circuit and Kennebec avenues. The streets will now be closed from 11 am to 10 pm.

The decision to move the time stemmed from conversations selectman Brian Packish had with Mocha Mott’s co-owner Tim Doble, who said his business was taking a hit on Sundays during the street closures.

Previously, Circuit Avenue and the lower portion of Kennebec Avenue were closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm, but as police set up barriers and make sure cars parked on the street clear out, closures can begin affecting vehicle traffic to the street closer to 8:30 am. Sunday marked the fourth street closure since the idea was approved by selectmen.

When selectmen approved the street closures back in June, Doble voiced concerns about the 10 am closure, telling selectmen the closure would “definitely negatively impact our business.”

“He’s very clearly experiencing some hardship on the 10 to 11 window. That’s his busiest hour, and he’s tracking numbers, things of that nature,” Packish said. “When the street closure happens it trails off pretty significantly for him.”

Packish added that now restaurants are much more proficient at setting up tables outside. Selectman Jason Balboni agreed, saying businesses are setting up quicker.

The Corner Store owner, Luke Debettencourt, said he supported the one-hour change since it helped out not only Mocha Mott’s, but also Reliable Market, which is open from 9 am to 1 pm on Sundays.

In other business, selectmen will study requests for conservation restrictions on two parcels of land off Hidden Cove Road. 

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation executive director Adam Moore asked selectmen to place conservation restrictions on the 10-acre parcel and the four-acre parcel. Sheriff’s Meadow currently owns the four-acre parcel, but is conveying it to the Hidden Cove homeowners association, which will then put it in conservation. The 10-acre parcel is owned by the homeowners association. Sheriff’s Meadow has been working with the homeowners association to have that land be put in conservation, and a trail easement created through it that will connect to trails leading to the Southern Woodlands, and trails that could potentially connect to the State Forest in the future.

The two parcels proposed for conservation. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation currently owns the area in blue while the Hidden Cove homeowner’s association owns the area in red. — Courtesy Sheriff’s Meadow Foun

“Officially, a conservation restriction, to be a legal conservation restriction in Massachusetts, it has to be approved and signed by the board of selectmen,” Moore said, adding that the foundation and homeowners association could do a land swap, but this ensures the land’s protection in perpetuity. “It makes it permanent.”

Balboni said the selectmen would review it and take action in the future.

Selectmen also appointed Anne Sylvester as the disabled commuters’ representative on the Vineyard Transit Authority advisory board. The position is a one-year appointment, with each Island town taking a turn appointing a new representative.

The town has received $98,000 in reimbursements from the state for COVID-19-related expenses. Town administrator Robert Whritneour said the town is eligible to claim reimbursement up to $400,000 in COVID-19 related expenses.

The town is moving forward with the town hall building project. After getting approval from town voters at the annual town election last month, Oak Bluffs is putting together a town hall building committee. Whritenour said lots of work is being done by Boston-based Icon Architecture and East Falmouth–based Dellbrook JKS. Construction is likely to begin in October, with a completion date of September 2021.