The Oak Bluffs annual town meeting is set for Saturday, May 15, at 12 pm at the Tabernacle.
Voters will take up a 46-article draft warrant and a $34 million budget. A short four-article special town meeting will also be held at the Tabernacle on that date. Check-in begins at 11 pm, and COVID protocols will be in place, including mandatory mask wearing and social distancing on Tabernacle grounds. No food is permitted.
The warrant for the annual town meeting contains several costly items, including $1.3 million for wastewater planning and upgrades and $510,000 to build a new park and ride lot. Other expenditures on the warrant include $50,000 toward a dump truck for the highway department, $35,000 for Niantic Park repairs and upkeep (including work on the Civil War statue), $22,625 for police body cameras, $70,000 for ambulance refurbishment, $259,700 for East Chop Lighthouse restoration, and $20,000 for a consultant to review zoning bylaws.
Voters will also be asked to change the name of the selectmen to the select board, to consider a prohibition of jumping, diving, or swimming from the Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier, to amend solar development zoning bylaw to be in accord with state requirements for receiving Green Community status, and to voluntarily eliminate polystyrene usage. A petition article also asks if the town wants to remove itself from the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, but the vote would likely be nonbinding.
Selectmen also placed an article on the warrant asking if voters would like to make the town’s fire chief a “weak chief.”
The position of Oak Bluffs fire chief is currently classified as a so-called strong chief under Massachusetts law. The position as it stands gives the fire chief hiring and firing authority and complete control over discipline. If changed to a weak chief, such power would be transferred to the select board.