Tisbury pleads for Beach Road intel

Select board also approves new committees and courts.

Work on Beach Road is mapped out on the town's website. - Rich Saltzberg

The Tisbury select board wants to meet with the clerk of the works on the Beach Road project so residents and business owners will have a better understanding of the pending construction of a shared-use path (SUP) on Beach Road.

The project, which has gotten significant pushback from property owners on Beach Road and doesn’t have the support of the select board, was expected to start on Sept. 8, but has been delayed briefly while a permit is sought. Construction is expected to last into 2023, with lane closures, detours, and significant traffic delays.

While members of the select board appeared to understand there was little they could do to alter the project at this point, select board chair Jim Rogers said they could at least fill in the town on what’s going on. “I don’t really know what we can do. I am concerned,” Rogers said. “I’m concerned with the communication between MassDOT and the town, or lack thereof, and I’m concerned with the effect it’s going to have on businesses in that area that have already been hit hard over the last couple of months.”

Selectman Jeff Kristal said the town’s been kept out of the loop. “I’m just disappointed in the whole process, and It’s going to be painful going forward for the next year and a half to two years,” he said of the traffic.

Larry Gomez, who has openly criticized the project, said it’s time for the town to extend an olive branch. “We need to become partners on this,” he said. “This is their road in our town and they’re telling us what they’re going to do. There must be some halfway point where we can meet and come to some reasonable decision and move forward on this.”

In a unanimous vote, the board authorized town administrator Jay Grande to facilitate a meeting between the town and highway officials so MassDOT can share its intentions with the public and businesses that will be affected by the construction work.

Committees, courts, and kayaks

The select board unanimously appointed the nine members of the Tisbury School Building Committee to continue on the renovation and addition project. When Rogers, a member of that committee, suggested the appointment should have a deadline of Nov. 30, both Kristal and Gomez suggested that might be a tight deadline.

Intead, they set June 30 as the appointment date, with the understanding that the building committee could be reconfigured should Tisbury voters approve the project at a special town meeting (still not scheduled) and a town election this fall.

Rogers again alluded to finding alternative funding sources through a consultant, though nothing specific was discussed. Rogers told the board that the building committee has approved renderings, the architect is working on a detailed cost estimate, and the committee is looking for ways to engage the public in the process.

The board also agreed to re-establish a waterways committee, and is seeking applications for membership to that five-member committee, to be appointed Oct. 27. A second committee established, the water resources committee, will call on the expertise of members of the health board and sewer advisory committee to deal with wastewater, stormwater runoff, and other water quality issues.

Earlier, Kristal summarized a meeting with the state Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Partners, a town consultant, on the comprehensive wastewater management plan. Kristal said the state suggested the town has excess flow, and should create a sewer bank. Grande described it as a foundational meeting, figuring out where the town’s at and where it wants to go.

In reviewing several applications for the Community Preservation committee (CPC) that would eventually go before town meetings, the select board approved support of $210,000 to replace the clay tennis courts on Church Street. 

The courts will be replaced either with a “new clay” or a hard surface, Carolyn Wallis told the board. The clay that’s there can no longer be repaired, she said.

The future of these courts caused a stir in May when word spread that the town might be considering a parking lot there.

A second, $10,000 application for CPC money will be used to expand the parking lot at the tennis courts. A third $50,000 application will replace one tennis court on Lake Street with three pickleball courts. The select board also approved those.

Kristal said it’s time for the town to “treat its parks better.” 

When harbormaster John Crocker presented a proposal for $10,000 to pay for kayak racks for Owen Park, Tashmoo Landing, and the Lagoon, Rogers reiterated his concern about too many dinghies clogging the beach and making it inaccessible to the public. He also asked that the kayak rack, which was ultimately supported by the board, would not be too tall to obscure the vistas.

Rogers asked if the town charges for use of the racks.

“If you don’t have a mooring, and you have a kayak or a paddleboard, then there is a charge,” Crocker said.

Rogers: “How much is that?” 

Crocker: “$25.”

Rogers: “A day?”

Crocker: “No (laughing). For the season.”

Rogers: “Oh, what a deal.”

Rogers said that’s something the town’s new waterways committee should take a closer look at.

In other business, the board authorized Grande to sign a $111,000 grant with coastal zone management. A presentation on a coastal resiliency project will be conducted on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 5 pm. The board also supported sending a letter with a survey that will be sent out by Healthy Aging M.V. to get a better understanding of the needs of the Island’s elderly population.