Beach Road Weekend scheduled

Tisbury town meeting date reset; harbor and shellfish assistant jobs outlined.

Tisbury select board chair Jim Rogers oversees Tuesday's meeting.

On Tuesday night, Tisbury’s select board unanimously approved August 27-29 as Beach Road Weekend dates for 2021 at Veterans Memorial Park. 

Adam Epstein, promoter of the event, told the board he expects to begin moving in equipment on Aug. 23, and “build the site” until Aug. 26. Breakdown would take place August 30 to Sept. 1, he said. 

Town administrator Jay Grande said staff have yet to review the dates for town conflicts, such as previously scheduled activities at the park. With that in mind, select board chair Jim Rogers stipulated the board’s approval would come with the understanding the dates were contingent on review by town staff.

Epstein said his team checked to make sure there were no conflicts with any other Island events, and noted no “national festivals” were slated over that weekend. 

“This week, as you guys already know, is traditionally a relatively light week by summer standards,” Epstein said, “and it’s also deep enough into the summer that we hope, of course, to have a large penetration of the vaccine into the general public by that point as well.”

Beach Road Weekend 2020 was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Epstein didn’t offer any clues as to the musicians expected this season.

The select board voted unanimously to scrap a May 1 annual town meeting date in favor of June 5. The board set the May date at a meeting on Dec. 29 after determining a traditional April meeting wasn’t accomplishable due to a late start in town planning for that meeting. 

At the meeting Tuesday, Rogers said following a town cabinet meeting he found town departments favored moving town meeting to June. He said timing concerns and unknown variables the pandemic could present factored into the opinions from various departments. 

Ahead of the vote, town counsel David Doneski reminded the board there were legal avenues to hold town meeting beyond June, but the board did not seem to have a desire to do so. 

Select board member Larry Gomez, who had expressed reservations about a June annual town meeting when the topic came up Dec. 29, reluctantly supported a shift to June in deliberation on the topic. 

“Larry, I feel the same way you do,” Rogers said. “I don’t like it, but I think under the circumstances it’s probably the best thing to do.”

“There isn’t one person who doesn’t want to do our town business in April, like we normally do,” town clerk Hillary Conklin said. “But because of the situation [and] wanting to keep everyone safe and healthy, we’re looking at June.”

Rogers asked Conklin’s opinion about holding the annual election on June 8.

“Let me paint the picture for you,” she said. “We may very well have early voting in person again, like we did last year; that is kind of pushing things one on top of another. I don’t know how I can be at town meeting and be running early voting at the same time. I think they should be more separate. I mean, really, having an election on the heels of town meeting would be a bit of a strain to be honest — especially when we’re looking at so many people coming to both things. I mean, it’s going to be a huge turnout this year.” 

Conklin said the board didn’t necessarily need to vote that evening if they weren’t yet “comfortable” with June.

“I think for everyone’s sanity, we need to make a decision,” Rogers said, “so the department heads know what they’re doing, and you and Jay and Deborah [Medders] know what you’re doing. We need to make a decision one way or the other.”

Medders, the town’s moderator, had recommended a June meeting back on Dec. 29. On Tuesday she suggested to the board the Tisbury School addition and renovation project should have a dedicated special town meeting.

Tisbury School Building Committee member Rachel Orr supported the idea. “I would just mention,” she said, “that often we have parents who want to come specifically for school issues, and if you set the school building as a special town meeting, that would make arranging childcare much easier for those families.” 

Medders said she would make inquiries on staff and stakeholder opinions on a dedicated special town meeting for the school, and report back to the board in two weeks with a recommendation. 

Grande later told The Times a special town meeting will be held the day before or the day after the annual town meeting. 

In other business, harbormaster John Crocker outlined a proposal to hire a “natural resources assistant,” a $50,321-a-year job with duties akin to a deputy harbormaster and an aide to the shellfish department. The year-round job would supplant the part-time seasonal assistant harbormaster position.

Crocker said the duties of the position included “patrolling busy waterways,” aiding boaters in distress, towing vessels, fuel spill response, “basic vessel maintenance,” including maintaining pumpout boat pumps, and mooring maintenance, among other things. Shellfish constable Danielle Ewart said a person holding the position could be a valuable year-round helper for equipment and boat maintenance, and could join Ewart aboard shellfish boats from time to time. 

Rogers asked Crocker what vessel the natural resources assistant would be assigned to.

Crocker said, “They would operate all the boats,” and wandered through a few details.

“You should be a politician,” Rogers said. “That was a good way to evade the question.” Rogers asked, on a typical July day, what boat would Crocker have, and what boat would the assistant have. Crocker answered 50 percent of the question. 

“I would say this person would mostly be using the patrol boat,” Crocker said. “On a typical day, but there are a lot of not very typical days too.”

Tisbury lost its harbor patrol boat in October 2019 when it sank at the Owen Park Dock. No one was held accountable. The town is in the process of finding a replacement vessel. In the interim, the harbor department has a loaner patrol boat from the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

The board took the natural resource assistant position under advisement.