Oak Bluffs to focus on local search for new town administrator

Town enlists UMass Boston for help in search.

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Oak Bluffs enlisted Umass Collins in its search for a new town administrator at a meeting Tuesday night. — Rich Saltzberg

With longtime town administrator Robert Whritenour heading to a new post in Yarmouth, Oak Bluffs is enlisting the help of the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

At a meeting Tuesday evening, selectmen charted their course by voting to conduct a local search for a new town administrator with the assistance of UMass Collins. The town will spend the first month advertising the position locally to seek local candidates. If the local search isn’t fruitful, selectmen will expand their search off-Island. The UMass Collins services will cost the town $9,000.

Selectmen Brian Packish and Ryan Ruley said that while Whritenour, who lives in Falmouth, served the town well, the new town administrator should be Island-based.

“I feel it’s absolutely imperative our next town administrator lives on Martha’s Vineyard,” Packish said. “I personally am one of the people in our community that feels having a town administrator who does not live on Martha’s Vineyard is an impairment to our community in leadership. It’s not a reflection on [Whritenour]; it’s just my position on the position.”

Ruley concurred. “The next town administrator at some point needs to live here, needs to be part of this community, needs to know what it’s like to live here,” he said.

Selectman Greg Coogan was wary of conducting a local search without the help of UMass Collins, since the town is busy gearing up for the annual town meeting and conducting its own search for a new fire chief.

In the event UMass Collins declines to assist the town, selectmen voted to choose Community Paradigm Associates, LLCm as their second choice.

Whritenour was hired by Yarmouth last month, but his contract is still being negotiated. Whritenour said he expects his contract to be completed and signed this week, at which time Oak Bluffs will begin its search. UMass Collins gave selectmen a three- to four-month recruitment timeline.

In other business, selectmen approved a beer and malt license transfer to the new owners of Tony’s Market. 

In November, then-owner David Richardson worked out a deal with wholesaler Island Food Products to take over the Oak Bluffs staple.

At Tuesday’s meeting, attorney Howard Miller told selectmen the new owners have every intent of keeping the business the same. This will be IFP’s first foray into a retail market.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Adam Bresnick, co-owner of Island Food Products, said. “It’s an institution for Oak Bluffs and the whole Island.”

Selectmen also appointed Noah Stobie and Russell (“Rusty”) Ventura to the Oak Bluffs Police Department. Stobie, an Islander who was working at the Chilmark Police Department, will be a full-time officer. Ventura was appointed as a special police officer. Ruley, a police officer in Edgartown, abstained from the votes.